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Qualitative Research – In Depth Interview Research project March 2001 _____________________________________________________________________ INTRODUCTION The research was conducted to find out the role of greeting cards in today’s high-tech electronic age. It would provide valuable insight to the card industry, further knowledge about the competition between Electronic cards and regular printed greeting cards and offer channels for improvement and further research.

The cards were divided into three categories: • • • Printed greeting cards (bought from stores) Handmade greeting cards (manually made by the respondents) Electronic greeting cards (online E-cards)

Some of the main questions we talked about: What category of cards did they use more frequently? Why did they prefer that category? Did they prefer illustrations or photographs on their cards? What, in their opinion, was the future of the Printed card industry with the advent of Ecards? If the Printed greeting cards along with postage were cheaper, would they send more cards? RESEARCH METHODOLOGY I conducted 30 minutes depth interviews with 15 respondents. They all had the following characteristics in common: • • • • • They were American females They were in the age group 20 – 25 years All had or were pursuing undergraduate classes (bachelors) or higher levels of education All of them sent and received cards All earned less than $25,000 a year

HYPOTHESIS • • • • • They would be sending less postal cards after discovering E-cards They would not have the time to make Handmade cards, but would prefer Ecards or Printed cards Cost would be the most important factor for not sending more postal cards The respondents being female, would like to sent cards with illustrations or photographs of flowers They would prefer illustrations to photographs

RESULTS According to the results, 82% of the respondents sent greeting cards in the following order: • • • Electronic Cards Printed Cards Handmade Cards

However, 18% followed this order: • • • Handmade Cards Printed Cards Electronic Cards

PRINTED CARDS Out of all the respondents who sent Printed greeting cards, none sent general everyday cards (like “Just wanted to say Hi!” cards). They used the printed cards only for special occasions, like Valentine, Birthdays or Christmas). Most of them used E-cards as well.

87% of the respondents in this category did not care for branded cards. They gave the following reasons for not buying branded cards: • • Too expensive – this was the foremost reason They were not as attractive as other cards on display

Out of the remaining 13% respondents, 3/4th bought only Hallmark cards and American greetings while the remaining bought only UNICEF cards.


All the respondents mentioned they preferred ‘Fun’ cards. Fun was described as “which made the other smile”, “cheerful”, “kind of naughty” and “sunny.”

They all liked cards with pictures of nature (landscape and flowers), children and animals.

67% of the respondents preferred to have photographs on cards instead of illustration. They said it was more personal, more sincere and “more me.” 33% preferred illustrations. None appreciated cartoons.

Many mentioned they like the particular square shape of the cards.

They all wrote a lot inside the card, despite having a short message already printed there. It gave a “more personal touch.” 80% said they treated the card like a letter.

62% of the respondents did not like very bright colors for their cards. They preferred pastels and watercolors.

All the respondents were satisfied with the message content in the Printed cards inside. In fact, 69% thought it was more important than the outside of the card: “The picture draws me to it (the card) while the message inside makes me decide whether I want to buy it or not” said one respondent. “I think the inside is better than the outside. Cards have half the message outside and the other half inside and it’s the inner message that completes the whole statement and that’s what gives meaning to the card” said another.

All the respondents thought Printed musical cards to be only for kids. They had never bought musical cards but had received them when there were little. “Kids don’t really care about cards but if they (cards) play music, then that would be something else.”

The respondents wrote memories, poetry and quotes in their cards along with the printed message, but no jokes.


All the respondents in this category said they would love to receive handmade cards, but seldom got any.

ELECTRONIC CARDS Reason for sending electronic cards: • • • Free Convenient Fast

90% of the respondents (all the people who sent Printed greeting cards plus 5% of the respondents who sent Handmade cards) sent Electronic cards. Mostly, they did not use it for everyday general E-cards, but only for special occasions.

All the respondents mentioned the site It seemed to be the most used site for Electronic Cards. The others sites mentioned were, and

Most of them never bothered to search for sites to get cards. When someone would send them a card, they would find out about that site. “People always send me cards first. Then I would just reply back using that site. I never really bothered to research for cards.”

All had been using Electronic cards for the last 3 – 4 years.

HANDMADE CARDS Only about 18% of the respondents made handmade cards. Out of which half sent general, everyday cards (about 3 cards per week on an average).

They used watercolors, gel pens and construction paper for making their cards. They tried to imitate the printed cards.

The reason for making cards: • • The cost factor The personal touch

GENERAL It was surprising to find that even though the cost factor was the most important to this group of respondents, yet the percentage of general Electronic cards being sent was less in comparison to general Handmade cards.

92% of respondents agreed that they would send more printed cards if the postal mail charges and the cards themselves were cheaper. The remaining 8% would not send more even if costs decreased.

73% decreased sending postal cards after getting to know about Electronic cards and the Internet.

91% respondents kept all the Printed cards they received. 2% saved the significant cards while 7% threw away all the cards after reading them. Handmade cards (if received) were always saved.

All agreed that Electronic cards were stereotyped. “There should be more variety in Ecards. They are either just drawings and very childish or totally old-fashioned. There should be something in the middle.”

All the respondents felt that the future of the card industry was secure. “Even though the Internet is free and easy, yet a postal card is more can feel it and hold it. That is something you cannot do with E-cards. Even if you print them out, it’s not the same. And I never do that anyways.”

CONCLUSION For young women, earning less than $25,000 a year: • • • • • The expense curtailed their buying capacity for cards Prefer to have photographs instead of illustrations on printed cards Would have liked to receive Handmade cards Most would send more Printed cards if cheaper Not many were aware of brand names.



The general everyday cards were almost always sent to boyfriends. And since females did not receive as many, its obvious that females buy or make more cards than males. Therefore Handmade cards were sent to keep the ‘personal touch’ and save money as well.

Tips for the card industry (for this target audience) would be: • • • • • • • • • • UNICEF and other cards should have more “fun” themes E-cards should have more variety Romantic themes should be increased Photographs of children, animals, nature, and flowers should be encouraged on cards. Cartoons should be avoided Unusual card shapes, especially the square shape, should be used more, without affecting the price Pastel shades should be encouraged The inside of the card should be given lots of importance. A lot of empty space should be left for writing personal messages. The general everyday cards should be cheaper and more youth oriented. Printed musical cards should be decreased for this target audience. The Printed card industry can compete with Handmade cards by either lowering the prices or making them look more ‘Handmade.'

FURTHER RESEARCH The respondents were a very narrow set of audience with very similar characteristics to each other. Similar research has to be performed with other target audience and then the results should be compared.

As this was a class project, only 15 students were analyzed.


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