Business cards bouncing back despite doubters

Business card demand has been steadily increasing at Solopress
Business card demand has been steadily increasing at Solopress

Industry experts have responded to a BBC article questioning the future for business cards and whether their use will bounce back as pandemic restrictions ease, or be largely replaced by technologies such as NFC and QR codes.

In the BBC piece Jason Alvarez-Cohen, co-founder of contact sharing app Popl which uses NFC, said that traditional business cards were old-fashioned and ripe for replacement. 

However, Vistaprint international president Florian Baumgartner said that sales at the Cimpress-owned web-to-print giant had recovered following the initial pandemic-related slump with customers increasingly embracing the use of QR codes on their business cards to turn them into a digital contact. 

Charlene Joss, managing director at Dundee-based Tradeprint, also owned by Cimpress, told Printweek that business card-sized products have become a flexible promotional print option in their own right. 

“Essentially a business card is just a credit card sized flyer – a means of communicating information. Merchandising is incredibly important right now and the traditional business card is now being used as an appointment card, a loyalty card, a thank you card, a voucher or a packaging insert,” she stated. 

“Many micro businesses have been created as a result of Covid and when we are reviewing artwork we have seen a big increase in people ordering business cards as an inexpensive marketing tool to accompany packages with special offers or discounts.”

Joss said Tradeprint had noticed a lot of people had taken the opportunity to rebrand and refresh their logos and stationery during the quieter spell caused by pandemic restrictions. 

“We suspect a lot of businesses will move or close premises as a result of Covid which again should keep volumes afloat for a bit longer,” she added.

“In summary there is still life in the product just perhaps not so much in the traditional sense.”

Christie Round, brand manager at Route 1 Print, said the business had also seen the creative uses for card-type products broaden.

“There’s no denying that we did see the drop off, events were cancelled and your typical uses for business cards seemingly died overnight in light of the pandemic. But as we started progressing and the world moved online, we saw more uses for business cards in terms of contact information, loyalty cards and other items within an ecommerce delivery.”

She also reported a surge in orders as events restart and offices reopen.

“With the return of face-to-face meetings and events/ networking coming back we have seen a huge surge in business card orders, particularly with embellishments, anti-bacterial laminate or rounded corners, with people wanting to stand out from the crowd. Not only this, we are seeing higher numbers of multi-set quantities with a pervious average being of around 10, now we are seeing orders in the 50s.”

“From an artwork perspective, we are seeing more of a digital presence on the design including using QR codes,” she added. 

Solopress managing director Simon Cooper said business card demand had been “steadily increasing throughout the course of the year”, and with in-person events starting to take place again over the coming months, the business “would expect to see a continued healthy recovery”.

Cooper said only time will tell whether demand would return to pre-pandemic levels. 

“One encouraging factor is that new business activity is and will continue to be at a high level for quite some time, and this always stimulates demand for business cards. As much as things change people are still very motivated to have a physical, tangible representation of their new venture and business cards are the perfect solution.”

Grafenia chief executive Peter Gunning said that the use of high-end print specs and paper stocks to achieve stand-out had grown. 

“Since the pandemic, our number one seller has now become luxury business cards, with biodegradable matt lamination. I think Marqetspace is still the only trade printer who uses bio lam as standard,” he said.