It might be the digital age, but card-giving is still in vogue. Unlike floppy disks or dial-up connections, greeting cards manage to survive the technological changes, becoming a valuable product still, especially among millennials. Although some opt for handmade cards made with an embossing folder, a large majority of customers choose to buy their greeting cards in-store.
Greeting cards are so popular that Americans buy about 6.5 billion cards every year. And the holiday season accounts for 1.6 million cards sold.
But what crucial role do greeting cards and letters play, especially in a world where digital communication reigns supreme?
Still Going Strong in the Digital Age
Forty years ago, sending and receiving Christmas cards served as a declaration of adulthood and the establishment of one’s home. More than just a greeting, these cards communicated the events of the years,such as achievements or deaths, to family and friends.
Greeting cards still hold this personal meaning. Even though they seem disposable and kitschy at times, retail sales for the product still hit about $7.5 billion every year.
But that isn’t to say that the internet hasn’t contributed to revenue declines in the industry.
In 2015, Hallmark, the largest and oldest manufacturer of greeting cards, downsized and restructured their organization to stay competitive in spite of the digital changes.
A Preference for Retro Technologies
But why is there so much love for paper cards? It all boils down to the need for something tangible.
Paul Doherty, executive director of the Greeting Card Association shares that email serves as a poor alternative to greeting cards. Unlike the latter, electronic communication fails to establish the same meaningful connection.
Baby boomers may value the convenience and speed of digital communication, but those in the under-40 age group want a more personal way to express themselves.
Growing up in an age where digital communication can easily fall victim to fraud, privacy, and identity theft, adults these days have a preference for vibrant crafts and retro technologies. These include unique pens, paper books, and vinyl records.
More than Just a Message
The resilience of paper documents and arts and crafts may come as a surprise to many. After all, those who created digital content systems thought that they could simply scrap data off the paper and dump them into a better, digital system.
But the paper is more than just a data-carrying device. It provides crucial info and makes communication consistent between the writer and reader. Although digital information is fluid and flexible, it could result in other people controlling the data or maybe even cause the data to disappear altogether.
And unlike digital information, those who receive paper cards keep them because of their sentimental value.
A Genuine Gesture
A paper card sent in the mail is more than just the message and its value, even. The gesture shows the genuine effort put forth by the sender to the receiver. And it shows the importance of that person in their life.
Nostalgia works through sensory inputs. Tangible objects can trigger memories and of the past, and make it seem like they are better than the present. Christmas and greeting cards allow people to relieve their fond memories of people and places.