STEVENS, Pa., Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Some may think Christmas cards are so 19th century -- first Christmas card was sent in England in 1843 -- but they are still popular, a marketing expert says.
Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing and lead researcher in a study of the greeting card market, says two-thirds reported sending holiday greetings last year, which is statistically even with results found in a similar survey done in 2009.
In addition, more than 80 percent of those surveyed in this year expect to send the same number of Christmas cards this year, with only 6 percent saying they will send fewer cards.
"Though the overall share of consumers who send holiday greetings has been on a steady course since 2008, the types of cards people will send are likely to be quite different this year," Danziger says in a statement.
"What's really changed in the holiday greeting card market is a growing demand for customized holiday cards where the sender uses their own photo and software tools provided by companies such as Shutterfly to create a totally personalized greeting card. Young people in particular gravitate toward the customized holiday card market, while the more mature consumers tend to stick with the traditional boxed cards."
Custom-printed cards are benefiting from emerging Internet vendors that offer online design and custom printing services, as well as the growth in digital photography.
Shutterfly.com, Hallmark.com and Snapfish.com are the top marketers in this category, based upon the survey results, Danziger says.
Danziger advises new companies to study the competition carefully and find a unique and strategic competitive advantage in order to compete more effectively with established competitors. In addition, retailers -- drug stores, mass merchants and grocery stores -- that have traditionally offered film processing services are also getting into the custom-printing business.
"Through the research, we found that the sales of individual, preprinted greeting cards dropped sharply, while those of custom greetings rose by an even greater share," Danziger said.
"Many consumers still believe in the value of a greeting card, but they want those greetings to be directly from their heart, not featuring generic art work and second-rate poetry."