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Packing a Punch in greetings card retail

punch streetThe greetings industry is renowned as much for its entrepreneurial spirit as for its  amazing creativity, so we loved hearing about this fabulous new card retailing business, Punch Street.

Founder and CEO Keisha DePaz – formerly a top flight New York attorney – sold her duplex apartment and officially launched the business on January 11 2013 with her business partner and brother, Aldo DePaz. They describe themselves as ‘street savvy young adults from the pulse of NY’ who ‘represent and relate to the exact audience’ they are seeking to attract.

Following a similar model to Moonpig and Funky Pigeon, but with an urban design twist and younger target consumer demographic, the goal is to unite the convenience of e-cards with the thoughtfulness of traditional print cards. Punch Street wants to combine the consumer appetite for real as opposed to virtual products with the ease of online ordering.

Keisha says her inspiration came after watching an edition of The Wire one day after work, when her attention was caught by a young character named Bodie, who went into a gift shop in search of flowers for a friend’s funeral but was left unsatisfied by the usual, traditional floral displays. When an assistant takes him to the back of the store to show him a selection of unique and quirky arrangements, Keisha was struck by the thought that he would need an equally unique greeting card to match his flowers.

The idea for Punch Street was thereby born, and in addition to traditional greetings the store offers products aimed directly at teenaged parents, prison inmates, patients leaving rehab and all the other gritty characters who reflect the realities of urban life in the 21st century.

The card line includes unusual but very specific recipients and messages such as: Teen Mom/Dad, Born This Way, Anti-Bullying, Rehab, as well as more traditional greetings. To help build brand recognition, Punch Street has also designed and copyrighted four fictional young adult characters – Anna Kari, Bella Perry, Dot Garber and Blake Brees – which have the potential to grow beyond cards and into the gift market.

Says Keisha: “I create cards that reflect young adults and teens in a way that is missing yet very much needed in the greeting card market today.  Also, I believe that to truly make a meaningful connection, we need for it to be printed cards. Millennials, in particular, are using email, text messages and engaging in so many other wireless connections. With Punch Street, we act as a bridge to allow our customers to still use technology in the way that we are familiar with, yet send real products focused on us to help make real connections.”

The business thinking behind such diversity stems from the fact that the US greetings market is worth up to $7.5 billion each year, with 24 – 35 year olds spending the most on cards. The only catch is that while these cool urban customers have money to spare, they’re also fickle and high maintenance customers with low boredom thresholds.

These demographics have left the US greetings industry somewhat flat as it continues to target middle income ladies and grannies, but out of touch with modern trends. The biggest publishers – who between them control 86% of the market – struggle to move with the times, leaving over 50 million so-called ‘millenials’ and ‘Generation Y’ consumers underrepresented in the industry. This is despite the fact that 25 – 34 year olds spend 41% more than those aged 35 – 44, with 80% of the younger group purchasing greetings cards in the past year, spending an average of $85 per annum*.

What many publishers do realise but don’t necessarily know how to tackle are the different shopping methods employed by these brand-conscious consumers, who make extensive use of social media – more so than email – and increasingly engage in mobile searching and shopping. Punch Street has all of this covered; it’ll be interesting to see if the business managed to replicate the enormous success of Moonpig in the UK market – even 5% of a multi-billion dollar market is worth more than a small packet!

*According to the Unity Marketing 2010 Report.