At this time of year, it’s really evident that it’s a kid’s life! Just think how many children’s parties have you been to recently… In honesty I haven’t been to many, but we are getting to the stage where we are being invited to celebrations of our children’s friend’s children. Which I think makes us those people who were family friends we called ‘aunts and uncles’ when we were growing up. Not that I’m complaining - I am very happy to take on the role of a surrogate family member, especially when it involves jelly, ice cream and musical chairs.
A few weeks ago I had the privilege of listening to a colour trend presentation by Dulux as part of the Giftware Associations trend seminar day - and I wanted to share some fascinating insights from Marianne Cartwright, Creative Director at Dulux (now there’s a job!!). She described the last 2-3 years in colour terms as “recessive years” when we have been playing it a bit safe in terms of colours so that “at least one part of our lives is feeling restful”. She went on to say that 2018 has been the start of a transition and that 2019 is a year of optimism - and she predicts the colour trends will reflect that. Certainly the cards we are seeing being launched at the moment would suggest that it is all about zing and vibrancy… and I say “.bring it on”!!
In several articles I have written this year I have commented on how we are keeping in contact with family and friends more which has lead to an increase in the sales of occasion cards particularly events linked to children as we all want them to be the last to be effected by a lack of funds.
And of course there are cards for every stage of a babies and child’s life from finding out that someone is pregnant, the baby shower, birth, christening, 1st birthday , Good Luck, Well Done and Thank You Teacher to Graduation… and so it goes on!
The biggest challenge is to find the most suitable card which will appeal to the parents initially and then the child as they get old enough to have an opinion!!
But first things first, the baby shower is a celebration that has really grown in popularity over the last 10 years and is very much about mum and her friends having fun in the last few weeks before baby arrives. As a retailer this is something to include in your range if you have space and if it is relevant to your customers - why not offer something fresh and new?
Once the baby or babies arrive then the fun begins… will it be a traditional pink or blue card or something more neutral? In the last 5 years there has been a real push in the children’s gift and book markets not to stereotype but as yet there does not seem to be any consensus in the card market on this and all options are still available.
Personally I tend to send humourous cards where I think they will be acceptable and in my surrogate aunty role I recently sent this card from Poet and Painter to celebrate a new arrival and it got a huge thumbs up from the joyful parents.
Arrival over… we then get in to the babies 1st …Christmas , Birthday and so on. These first celebrations seem to have gained much more focus recently.
Christenings are increasingly popular and there are some lovely card designs coming on to the market to celebrate this important day. While it is a religious occasion, there are more contemporary cards being brought on to the market as well as the more traditional designs you might expect.
We know that the population of the UK is culturally diverse and there are all sorts of occasions that will be marked by sending cards with best wishes and congratulation. Peace and Blessings is a relatively new publisher whose designs will now be available under license from The Artfile this will mean that the designs will become much more widely available in 2019 which is really exciting.
Birthdays are a time to have fun, I still enjoy my birthdays even now!! There are some fantastic birthday cards for children and as they begin to develop interests and hobbies you can find cards to suit all tastes; here are a selection of some of my favourites…
The hardest ages I have always found are teens… when finding something relevant it is often difficult to identify and all they want is money and a text message.
And then there is school and all the friends parties that your children are invited to! All of a sudden you need 30 cards and this is when the idea of packs of children’s birthday cards makes so much sense, yet I have only seen 2 publishers offer them and both commented that sales were poor. Retailers don’t like the idea as they think everyone will trade down and buy 3 or 4 packs a year rather than buying 30 single cards - and without doubt some will. But bulk packs of a broad set of designs priced as Christmas packs would be a nice price point for a lot of retailers and would stop parents buying these types of packs online; it feels as though it is worth a try to me.
At the end of very school year we need to say thank you to the unsung heroes: the teachers and teaching assistants who put so much effort in to helping our children to learn. Thank You Teacher cards and presents are a definite fixed point in most parent’s or carer’s calendars, and there are some really fun cards around!!
And what about the other milestones Good Luck, Well Done, Passing your Driving Test, and Graduation Congrats! Well, while they are adults at this point, they don’t stop being your children and I love sending cards - so for me they are a great way of marking an occasion and staying in touch. Caroline Gardner are one of my favourite publishers for these types of card.
Regardless, card sending is all about marking occasions - be they personal and individual or seasonal and cultural. As a retailer, thinking about these in relation to children specifically can open up all sorts of opportunities to broaden your occasions offer and there has never been a better time to do it..