American Greetings Confirms Consumer Appeal

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American Greetings Confirms Consumer Appeal

By Alliston Ackerman - 11/17/2011
American Greetings Corporation (www.americangreetings.com) recognizes that confirming consumer appeal for new products, promotions and merchandising strategies before roll out to the masses is critical to profitability.

In 2004, the manufacturer and retailer of innovative social expression products employed APT’s (www.predictivetechnologies.com) Test & Learn software to assist with the decision-making process in key strategic areas, like product offerings, pricing and promotions, merchandising, space optimization and operations. Today, the company is a well-oiled, retail-testing machine. Through the use of a robust process, test plans are prepared and executed, results at retail are analyzed, and product distribution strategies are formulated — all with ease.

“APT has become ingrained into key business functions within the company, like new product development and merchandising,” says Tom Bowen, director of Quantitative Methods – Business Intelligence, American Greetings. “As these areas plan and create new concepts for the greeting card market, testing using the APT tool is now part of the development span to maximize their success at retail.”

A+ in Innovation

To remain relevant among consumers, American Greetings must deliver a steady stream of new product innovations to market. Concepts deemed to have the largest potential for consumer appeal throughout earlier stages of the product development process move on to the retail-testing phase using APT. Tests are conducted in several hundred stores that represent a cross section of American Greeting’s retail partners.

“We have found that testing not only confirms a good idea; it also helps sharpen the implementation strategy. With the test and learn capability, we don’t need to be as conservative with our ideas and our experiments. We are able to push innovation and explore new areas,” says Bowen.

For example, it was through this process that American Greetings launched its highly successful technology card offering in 2009:  Lights, Sound, and Action (LSA).  

“Cards within LSA combine sound, music, lights and motion to surprise and delight our customers,” says Bowen. “By completing the retail testing process, we were able to confirm the program’s consumer appeal, and target its roll out to retail outlets with the highest potential for success.”  

In addition to maximizing sales, an effective roll out and distribution plan was key to the program’s profitability because of the LSA line’s higher than average cost of goods.


A+ in Collaboration

Retail testing has also helped solidify American Greetings’ category management position with key retail partners. Today, retailers readily share sales data with American Greetings and are very receptive to ideas for new tests. The results of those tests have been so successful that many of the retailers who sell American Greetings products are now also using APT for testing of their own.  

“When our retail partners ask us about the impact of new products, promotions, and merchandising programs, we have the insights they need,” says Bowen. “That is a huge advantage in conducting a successful business.




FAST FACTS

Company at a Glance
Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, American Greetings generates annual revenue of approximately $1.7 billion.

Crazy for Testing
The process of performing a test has become ingrained in American Greetings’ day-to-day operations — from product development and merchandising to marketing and operations.

Words of Wisdom
“The potential for testing is always growing... Retail testing is one of the capabilities that has helped American Greetings build stronger relationships with its retail partners.”
— Tom Bowen, Director of Quantitative Methods – Business Intelligence, American Greetings Corporation

Defining the Category
A longtime fan of in-market testing, American Greetings is confident that its product, sales and marketing decisions will drive the greatest value for retail partners.

A Leader in Social Expression
American Greeting’s major greeting card brands are American Greetings, Carlton Cards, Gibson, Recycled Paper Greetings and Papyrus. It also has the largest collection of electronic greetings on the Web.