Nov 29, 2010
2011 Trends Forecast
Abby Heugel, Managing Editor

Look to the past for future success

Looking ahead to 2011 is going to feel a lot like looking back on 2010, or even 1980, for that matter. With Hollywood seeking to cash in on the success of sequels and remakes, many of the same characters and themes that have already saturated the screens and store shelves will be checking back in once again for 2011.

There will also be a strong environmental influence, with not only the “green” movement sticking around, but with animal icons, earth tones and animal prints exerting a strong presence throughout the industry.

Animation Station
The animated features viewers have known and loved will once again return to plates, balloons and big screens everywhere as movies such as Kung Fu Panda 2, Cars 2 and Smurfs reassert themselves into the media mix. While many enjoyed them the first time around, there will be a whole new batch of viewers that will be discovering the joys of Papa Smurf and Marvin the Martian for the first time.

Wizards, Pirates and Vampires…oh my!
The release of the next Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean and Twilight movies will keep wizards, pirates and vampires – of both the licensed and generic varieties – at the top of the list year round. Parents may opt for more generic versions of the theme accented by one or two licensed products, as they will still be looking to get more products for less money.

Bridal Bliss
When it comes to invitations, brides want to stand out from the crowd and reflect the style and theme of their wedding day. Ask questions to get to know the bridal couple and what their wedding day will be like. Then show them invitations that meet their needs and match their style.

And according to wedding specialists at Carlson Craft, that style will highlight ensembles that include a pocket and invitations that have a flourish/swirl/damask as part of the design. These swirly lines can be found on both traditional and contemporary invitations. Shimmer papers are gaining popularity, as are save-the-date magnets.

The specialists are also seeing more brides requesting black, white and red; eggplant (purple) and pewter; fuchsia and black; pewter and lavender; navy. In terms of designs, look for wedding invitations that include paisley, birds, retro looks, animal prints, letterpress printing with a classic elegant look, colors with an earth tone twist and brighter colors/color combinations.

Primal Party
Animal prints will be spotted on everything from youth birthday balloons and gift bags to bachelorette invitations and cocktail cups, as it adds a bit of primal personality and fun to any occasion.

But more than just animal prints will be in demand. While owls, butterflies and birds remain classic icons and symbols in 2011, the animal themselves will take center stage in the form of continued environmental concern and an abundance of animal appearances on the big screen.

Along with the animated features “Happy Feet 2” and “Puss in Boots,” there will also be releases of movies such as “Dolphin Tale” and Disney’s “African Cats.” Make sure to carry animal-themed costumes, accessories and partyware – both generic and licensed – at Halloween and throughout the year to meet the demand of themed parties and celebrations.

Horror and Heroes
Scary sells, and come Halloween those “Scream” masks you’ve been selling since 1996 will once again be relevant with the release of “Scream 4” and a remake of 1985’s horror flick “Fright Night.” Look for a variety of spooky accessories, masks and make-up to be in demand as people try and recreate the look of their favorite frighteners.

But have no fear, as a new batch of superheroes will once again race onto the scene in the form Captain America and Thor, along with the return of X:Men and Transformers, just to name a few. While these themes will be popular on partyware throughout the year, once again look for an increased demand for “super” costumes come October.

Timely Greetings
When it comes to greeting cards and holidays, George White of Up With Paper said one key issue for retailers is plan carefully for in 2011 is that Easter is so late: April 24 vs. April 4 last year and April 8 the year before. This could cause a real problem for retailers who cannot merchandise more than one season at a time, as it would reduce the Mother’s Day season to just two weeks.

“Mother’s Day is our second strongest season, after Christmas, so I have researched the amount of our Mother’s Day cards that sold before and after April 24 in 2009 and 2010,” White said. “In measured accounts, Mother’s Day sales prior to April 24 represented 44-52 percent of total Mother’s Day sales.

“Because Mother’s Day is so much larger than Easter,” White continued, “small retailers may therefore want to take the position of minimizing Easter in favor of more Mother’s Day, earlier.”

White added that Easter is so late it could interfere with graduation sales, as the first college graduations are May 1. It’s a tough call, but retailers should check their prior year sales and see what makes sense for them to be able to maximize sales from seasonal cards.

Everyday Notes
When it comes to everyday greeting cards, there will once again be something for everyone.

“We are seeing continued strong sales of butterflies,” said George White of Up With Paper, “along with a significant increase in sales of cards with monkeys and monsters.”

At NobleWorks, Ron Kanfi said they will be emphasizing and putting a humorous spin on themes such as technology, social networking, the environment, family dynamics, work life, dating, etc. They also try to make their characters ethnically diverse or ethnically neutral, which is important for 2011 as the nation continues to diversify culturally, and advances in technology have allowed them to offer custom printing of cards for consumers and print-on-demand services for retailers.

“Those are two important directions for us in 2011,” Kanfi said, “and advances that will help to make the greeting card industry as a whole more efficient and more profitable in the years to come.”

At American Greetings, Frank Cirillo said they know consumers are looking for fresh ways to celebrate, offer a bit of comic relief, surprise and delight and let those closest to them know how important they are.

“We are focused on offering the greatest value while meeting these needs, which is what we would stress to party and paper retailers now and in the coming year,” Cirillo said. “Promoting the high quality products available in their card aisles, and highlighting top sending holidays and occasions can help to bring shoppers into their stores and keep them coming back.”

Rising Up
What’s on the horizon for balloons? The new color trends popping up everywhere are turquoise, black and white pattern prints and black and white contemporary designs with just a splash of color.

“Polka dots are still hot and appropriate for any occasion from birthday parties and baby showers, to other special events,” said Lisa Bennett of Pioneer Balloon Co. “And animals and animal prints are back for all age groups celebrating birthdays.”

For girls, it’s a pink zebra theme where pink accents blend perfectly with black and white zebra prints. For boys, it’s a safari adventure party. And for adults, it’s a party that can be classic and tasteful with the realistic color schemes, or wild and crazy with the bright neon colors and animal patterns.

Bennett added that bugs and farm animals are a favorite for pre-school age children and garden party events, while cupcake parties, “flower power” and the Birthday Diva/Rock Star themes will remain strong.

“For the professional event decorators and planners, the Qualatex Decor Shapes are growing in popularity,” she said. “They’re versatile, easy to work with and can be adapted to fit any size party and budget.”

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