The recent down turn, recession, credit crunch, banking crisis – whatever you want to call it definitely affected Christmas card sales in 2008, especially the personalised corporate market. It compounded the already shrinking industry. Over the last five to six years less and less companies have sent Christmas cards, some have simply stopped as they see it as an unnecessary expenditure where as others have sent emails.
Some of the fall out from this reduced market place was more consolidation of the publishers and suppliers with Powell Publishing selling their personalised Christmas card business to CCA Occasions in February of 2009. This followed Taylor Corps purchase of CCA in late 2006 early 2007, which put two of the top three players in the market place together as one company – ‘Fine Impressions’ and ‘CCA’ created ‘CCA Occasions’. Will 2009 force more of the main players to either sell up or come together to keep the industry going – only time will tell?
Taylor Corp’s strategy in the UK market appears to be ‘buy up the competition until we’re the only player left’. Already perceived to have the market share it’ll be interesting to see what happens this year. The unfortunate result of one big player is a reduction of choice for the consumer as the brands get swallowed up, the overall number of Christmas card designs available is reduced. With the best will in the world CCA Occasions will not keep 160 of their own designs, 100 of Fine Impressions and 160 of Powell Publishing’s – they will consolidate the ranges, so there’s duplication across all their publications and brands. As such there will be less consumer choice and more saturation of the CCA Occasion cards.
The main players in the personalised Christmas card market place are,
4c for Charity
Art in Design
Just about everyone else uses the cards produced by the above companies either by license or sales commission. Looking through the top online Christmas cards sites, the majority don’t produce Christmas cards they just sell them on behalf of the above publishers. Other companies produce mail order brochures with a mix of the main publisher’s cards, some do both. All of the main publishers go direct to the consumer as well as selling through a network of independent outlets.
So we’ll have to wait until January 2010 to see if the market continues to shrink and whether there’s further consolidation in this difficult market place. Lets hope Charity Christmas cards survive in omse form or another.