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What do you do when a competitor’s product gains positive publicity that threatens your bottom line? And how does that response change when the product is targeted toward a multicultural consumer segment you know little about?

This was the dilemma faced by our client, a greeting card manufacturer. A competitor’s in-culture greeting cards for African American consumers had gained increased publicity and awareness, threatening the client’s bottom line with the African American consumer. To better compete, the brand approached C+R for help in understanding the needs and desires of African American consumers when it comes to greeting cards.

C+R developed a multi-phase qualitative exploration that helped our client dive deep into African American culture more broadly, and their specific thoughts and feelings around greeting cards. As a result of the research, our client gained greater empathy for African American greeting card buyers, as well as several strategic insights to employ when creating new cards.

Problem

To better compete with the heightened publicity and awareness garnered by a competitor, our client, a well-known greeting card company, sought ways to connect more deeply with African American card givers and recipients. Specifically, the client desired to know who these consumers are, what makes them tick, and what cultural nuances shape their perceptions of both " general" and in-culture card categories. 

With this research, our client hoped to gain evergreen knowledge around the African American cohort to inspire future product creation that is relevant, meaningful, and creates deep connections with this consumer segment. 

Result

As a result of the study, our client learned more about African American culture more generally and the needs and desires of African American card buyers more specifically. We helped them to identify themes and subject matter to use, as well as to avoid, when creating greeting cards.

The client also discovered what each generational cohort looked for with greeting cards and received suggestions for how to best tailor their offerings based on the generation. 

Finally, our client received a suggested list of dos and don'ts to help make their in-culture greeting cards more relevant and attractive to African American card buyers.

Solution

C+R developed a multi-phase qualitative exploration to help our client deeply immerse into lifestyle, mindset, and cultural nuances of African American consumers.

First, to help build understanding and empathy with African American consumers, we presented a cultural 101 presentation on African Americans. This presentation, which lasted two hours, was presented by our in-culture experts and immersed our client's team into African American families, rituals, lifestyles, and shopping behaviors. Insights, which were generated from proprietary data gathered via our CultureBeat® and YouthBeat® teams, gave our client a holistic view of the zeitgeist impacting African American card buyers.

Next, we conducted online discussions and asked all of our study participants to complete pre-fieldwork digital homework with creative activities and a shopping exercise. Participants shared pictures of their daily lives to help our client better understand their needs and desires. The participants then visited a card store and shared their experience and thoughts surrounding a greeting card shopping experience.

The third phase of the research consisted of webcam in-depth interviews. A small group of African American respondents participated in these hour-long interviews and spoke more deeply about their lives and their thoughts surrounding the greeting cards category. Participants, who all purchased multiple greeting cards per year, included a mix of lifestyle situations, ages, and gender. 

During the interview, these consumers discussed the importance of the African American culture in their daily lives, provided a home tour, discussed their greeting card philosophy, and described their joys and frustrations when it came to purchasing greeting cards.

Finally, to allow for a dynamic conversation around what resonates within the greeting card category, we conducted in-person focus groups. Six, two-hour groups of respondents discussed their thoughts around the current greeting cards category as well as their perceptions around our client and competitors' products. 

All focus group participants were African American and purchased greeting cards several times per year. Both men and women participated, and we split the groups by generation (Millennial, Gen X, and Boomer). In order to get a mix of perspectives, we also included a mix of lifestyle situations and a mix of how participants identified with the African American culture.

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