For the greeting card industry, the trade fair frenzy at the beginning of the year introduced some fantastic ranges for us to buy, driving sales high this spring. Our card designers must have been very busy at the end of last year working on these great ideas, developing trends we saw emerging in 2016 and giving us fresh ideas for 2017 as well.
Lets have a look at some of the styles we've seen so far...
They say that a dog is man’s best friend and there are certainly plenty of them adorning the displays at the shows. In the main they seem to be being used as a vehicle for humour, normally because of their crazy antics or expressions and there are some very cute ones too. As consumers we seem to be particularly attracted to ranges with stories behind them so Mint’s new range A Dog named Jimmy, featuring Jimmy the English Bull Terrier, is perfectly timed. He is a social media sensation and we are told he loves balls, bones and a grey blanket. Jimmy is photographed doing silly things often with humour being added by a line drawing, a human element or a quote - it will definitely make you smile!
Another dog inspired range that caught my eye at Top Drawer was the Great British Bark Off. The simple but strong graphic style used by Sweet William on this range of cards and gifts is very on trend.
There is definitely a move away from white cards with small graphics or a joke. There is a lot more natural un-coated board being used with some really popping colours or with foil and this is giving us some really interesting products to move our ranges on. Foil colours and foiling techniques are still very dominant but the colour palette has changed with much more gold, copper, bronze and a very dark silver being used. Quire’s eye catching Copper Charm range is a good example of this, they have used a high quality natural fibre board with a subtle colour palette and finished off with lots of lovely foil detailing.
Kate Guest has taken a slightly different approach keeping the print one colour black on a natural grey board but then setting this off with fabulous neon envelopes which would look fantastic on display instore.
Having said that the number of very simple white cards is reducing, white is being used as a background colour for bold stylish designs where strong graphics are used often in black and sometimes an additional colour to give it some real oomph.
Botanika from the Great British Card Company is a good example of this, the designer explained to me that she was inspired by her love of botanical illustrations, she has then used foil to pick out details in each of the blooms framing the illustration so it appears to be growing out of the frame.
Of course refreshing a successful range can be a really effective way of getting new designs out in to the market.
Platinum has been fabulous range for Belly Button Designs the stylish range using a lovely quality white textured board was previously embossed using a striking combination of silver and blue foils but they have now extended the range by using a wonderfully vibrant colour palette with the subtle addition of foil to ensure that the range really stands out.
Licensing continues to be an important image source for cards; whether accessing well known collections or picking up on social media trends. I mentioned A Dog named Jimmy earlier which is a licensed range. Another range which I think has real presence and is aimed at a very different customer is the new range from Matthew Williamson which launched a few years ago which gets stronger and stronger as they understand more about what it is customers want to buy.
One of the great things about retailing cards is the variety available and one of the noticeable things about this year’s ranges is the use of colour, foil and finishes. The James Eilis range 'Kapow' shows just how much fun you can have when designing cards. Comic strip imagery is becoming more popular, combining strong colours, simple impactful graphics and words, this combination gives retailers a really knock out range.
One of the benefits of the lower value of the £ is that we should have many more foreign visitors and probably more of us ‘staycationing’ too, which is good news for anyone retailing in popular and much-visited areas. Many publishers are offering product that reflects local areas, be it with well-known words and sayings or images. Susan Taylor has some very strong designs for lots of locations around the UK and you can see that she realises that purchases of these types of ranges want them to be up-to-date and relevant to the market, so she is using many of the features already mentioned with the strong bright colours and natural kraft envelopes.
I wrote in one of my previous articles that we would probably have price increases to face in the new year. While prices are certainly going up, the increases seem to be modest and shouldn’t cause any major issues for retailers in the first part of the year. If the wealth of new designs is anything to go by it should be a good one...