When we decided to open as a Greeting Card Publisher in the U.K. a few years back, we received plenty of advice from friends, family and well-wishers. Some of the advice was encouraging and other kinds of advice, not so much. Typically a new startup will get support, but also plenty of naysayers too. Every bit of advice from 'this market is saturated', 'you are too small to succeed' and the most hurtful 'your product won't appeal to buyers'; in our case this came out as 'Men won't buy your cards'.
Now after listening to a large portion of Michelle Obama's biography 'Becoming', her words on naysayers resonated with me on that last point. She explained that usually it was those closest to you who give out that last bit of advice and that despite the 'barb' that is felt, it is actually well-meaning. She believed that those who deeply care about us are simply trying to protect us from failure, almost pre-empting the excuse that could be given, if and when failure occurs. You would be able to blame it on the product, not your own failings. She has given me courage to carry on my belief in our product.
But is this confidence unsupported? Well we were starting to worry earlier this year after only reaching a modest number of local retailers. Then Covid-19 happened and we took up online selling via the Amazon Platform to great success. Our business now runs 24 hours and day and 7 days a week. The hot weather does impact daily sales, but a day of rain and they all return in droves. Fair enough, we also want to enjoy the mini heatwave in Britain! So these results already quelled our concern over our floral cards, people loved them and we have, through the analysis of data, been able to accurately determine which card designs are most popular and design further greeting cards to meet that demand.
But ultimately the question of whether men buy our cards came up. Normally a retailer on the high street is unable to determine this without breaching GDPR rules. When you buy a card in a physical shop, you don't also provide them with your full name and home address. So not only can we show where our cards are travelling throughout the U.K. and Europe, but we can determine who is buying the cards.
This aspect of data analysis is done using customer names that are obvious such as 'Jack' and 'Jill', but also using the titles; 'Mr' and 'Mrs'. Then there is a category that we are unable to easily identify such as 'E M Surname' (is that Emily or Elliot?) or first name that we are unfamiliar with or can be used by either gender (e.g. Charlie). For those we apply the same ratio obtained from the known names. (Please note we are unable to determine other genders with the data provided) And so after nearly 5 months on Amazon, we have a result. 25% of greeting card sales are purchased by Men.
Well I never! I did not expect it to be so high, especially since our cards are mostly floral in design. But since 'Happy Birthday Mum', 'Happy Birthday to a special Lady' and 'For my Amazing Wife on our Anniversary' are in our best sellers range, why ever not?