This Valentine’s Day, millions will show their special someones they care with the help of Hallmark. But the greeting-card giant had nothing to do with the holiday’s inception. Honest.Quick: Name a card company that doesn’t start with H. While you’re thinking, we’ll just start talking about Hallmark anyway, because who are we kidding? This month, the 103-year-old greeting-card behemoth headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., will presumably be responsible for a large share of the 160 million cards sold each year for Valentine’s Day. (The privately held company doesn’t disclose sales figures.) It’s a boon for business to be sure, but is this day of love just some heartfelt conspiracy designed to hawk cards and candy? According to Ellen Junger, Hallmark Cards, Inc.’s senior vice president of consumer solutions? Absolutely not. Junger recently chatted with American Way about how Hallmark’s business has changed and the best card she’s ever received.
American Way: Is Feb. 14 Hallmark’s favorite day of the year?
Ellen Junger: It’s the second-largest card-sending holiday in the U.S. — topped only by Christmas, with Mother’s Day a very close third. So yes, it’s absolutely one of Hallmark’s favorite days.
AW: You’ve heard those conspiracy theories about Valentine’s Day being created by greeting-card companies. Care to comment?
EJ: Not true. That never happened. Others create the holidays, we just respond to the demand.
AW: How has the advent of e-cards and Twitter greetings affected Hallmark?
EJ: Mainly in a positive way. Everyone’s been impacted by new technology, but because our consumer is someone who loves being connected to others, the overall effect on the greeting-card category has been good while the actual e-card impact on tangible cards has been rather small — nothing like digital’s influence on photos, books and DVDs. In fact, computer-to-computer e-carding is now seeing quite a marked decline with the rise of mobile and social media, while traditional card sales remain stable.
AW: That said, how has Hallmark been adapting to all these rapid changes?
EJ: The whole trend around card customization continues to be a growing one for us, and digital certainly plays a major role there. We have a robust personalized greeting-card business where you can log on to Hallmark.com and make a card your own with photos and messages.
AW: What’s the nicest card you’ve ever received?
EJ: The one that’s probably my favorite is from my daughter, who’s 10 now. When she was 4, she gave me a Valentine’s Day card — the kind where you can record a personal message. Just having that card that she picked out herself and recorded in that little voice with her signature — that’s just something I’ll keep for the rest of my life. And that’s one thing we hear all the time from people, that they keep their cards. They’re something you can keep, reread or re-listen to forever.
AW: Do you feel that people rely on Hallmark not just for a pretty card but to relay those elusive right words?
EJ: We hear that time and again — that “Hallmark says what I can’t quite say.”
AW: Is there a message Hallmark could send out to American Way readers right now, just in case we can’t quite say it ourselves?
EJ: Absolutely. I know American Way readers are travelers, so even if you’re not at home this Valentine’s Day, never miss the occasion to tell someone you love how much they mean to you and how important they are in your life. We’re all so busy these days, but really, what’s more important than that?
Love and Money
What do people shell out on a day dedicated to romance? Here are some fervent V-Day figures.
About 160 million greeting cards will be bought for Valentine’s Day this year — not including all those child-Valentine multipacks.
Last year’s national Valentine’s Day spending projections were $17.6 billion, with the average American consumer dropping $126.03 on gifts, meals and entertainment.
More than 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate are purchased on Valentine’s Day.
About 200 million roses are sold on Valentine’s Day, with average prices for a dozen long-stems jumping from $60 to $80 during Valentine’s Day week.
Pet owners will spend, on average, $4.52 for their furry companion on Valentine’s Day.
Sources: Greeting Card Association; National Retail Federation; National Confectioners Association; Society of American Florists