Gone are the days when people posted you that nice, warm greeting card for the season. Now, in the age of SMS and MMS greetings and e-cards on the Net, most customers are happy send their warm wishes with the help of their handset keypad or the Net. So, are mobile phone greetings and e-cards eating away into the traditional card market?
CS Das, Chief Executive of ‘Expressions’, ITC’s greeting card, gifting and stationery division, says, “Of course technology has made a difference to the traditional greeting card market. We are down by 10 per cent. However, this is a trend that is happening the world over. In fact, even in major markets like the US and the UK, technology has made an impact and universally a fall of two to three per cent is evident annually.”
Incidentally, Idea Cellular also acknowledges the fact that there has been an impact on the traditional card market. In fact, the company is expecting a 30-40 per cent increase in traffic on New Year’s Eve (post 12 am). Sukanta Dey, Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer, says, “For January 1, 2005, we expect a 30 to 40 per cent increase in SMS traffic over January 1, 2004. We had 90 lakh outgoing SMS on January 1, 2004.”
Dey believes that SMS and MMS offer great savings to the customer, both in terms of cost and also a trip to the greeting card store. “Texting and MMS are more personalized and offer greater overall value to the customer,” he said.
Archies Director Jagdish Moolchandani, however, says that although there has been a dent in revenues, it is to a very small extent. “If you notice the trend, you will observe that most people are shifting back to traditional cards as it holds more emotional value,” he observed.
Interestingly, officials from leading websites like rediff.com and indiatimes.com believe that SMS, MMS and e-cards have not eaten away into the greeting cards market; instead, they have helped expand the market. TN Prabhu, Head-Telecom, Indiatimes, believes that the emotional quotient is very powerful in greeting cards in comparison to SMS, MMS or e-cards. “They are definitely not eating away into the traditional greetings market but these technologically advanced services are certainly popular and there is enough room for all to serve in the same market,” he commented.
Joy Ghosh, VP, Mobile Services, rediff.com, also agrees with this view, but he cautions, “As of now, the impact is marginal. However, with major growth coming from technologically advanced services, there is a possibility that over a period of time it might affect the traditional greeting cards market.”