Greeting cards are made of card stock that may be of wood pulp or part "rag" (textile waste)—sturdy, fairly expensive paper. Increasingly, these card stocks are being made with recycled materials. Many, but not all, of the companies put a glossy aqueous coating consisting of water and a water-based acrylic coating on the stock after printing particularly when a photograph is featured. Inks vary as well. Many companies are moving toward the use of soy inks, containing water-based solvents and are more easily cleaned, recycled, or disposed of than oil-based solvent inks. Soy ink composition varies with the printing process; cards are most often printed using sheet-fed printing and the soy ink for that includes between 20%-30% soybean oil, resins, pigments, and waxes.
The Manufacturing Process
The manufacture of greeting cards varies greatly depending on the size of the corporation. Successful greeting card companies put a great deal of importance on business research, marketing, and creative design because these help determine what cards will sell well.
Research and marketing
- Generally, before the artists and verse writers begin to put pen to paper, large companies support in-house researchers that learn all they can about potential buyers. These researchers find out all they can about consumers' wants, needs, and concerns that can be addressed in a greeting card not already in production. The researchers use statistical analysis, market research, and research on lifestyle changes. Once the Research Department has an idea for a new card line, they utilize focus groups, surveys, and controlled store tests to gauge the potential of the new product. For example, research may indicate that changes in the American family calls for cards that acknowledge step-siblings, or suggest that soaring numbers of cat owners will lead to a successful line of cards offering sympathy on the death of a pet.
Designing the card
- Smaller greeting card companies sometimes contract designers to provide sketches and ideas they feel will be good sellers and fit their niche markets. However, in larger companies, the Research and Marketing departments work closely with the Creative Department in order to collaboratively devise a new card. These larger companies employ an in- house creative staff that includes artists, graphic designers, photographers, writers, editors, and copywriters. This staff provides the illustrations and verse featured in the product. The Creative Department "marries" the sketch to the appropriate verse and creates a hand-made card. Once the Marketers and Researchers are pleased with these mock-ups are examined and rated by consumer panels or focus groups. The prototypes deemed most marketable are then moved into technical production.