Brits Prefer the Personal Touch of Handwritten Notes

New research from the supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has revealed that the British public loves the personal touch of handwritten messages. In a new national survey of 2,000 people across the UK, the researchers found that a healthy 68 of people preferred messages written by hand. A figure that rose to 71% and 74% amongst women and the younger generation (ages 16-24) respectively.

This is great news for the greetings card, stationery and giftware industries where we always favour a well, written real message over something virtual! While getting the numbers higher would always be good I think these rates are quite solid; especially considering how much people have switched to an “online life” for many tasks.

I’m also really pleased to see the younger generation also preferring handwritten notes over online communication methods. This trend is hopefully something we will see boosting our industry in the years to come.


68% of Brits prefer to receive a handwritten letter or greeting card rather than a less personal email or e-card.


71% of women would prefer to receive a handwritten note from their loved one rather than an email.


74% of 16-24 year olds would prefer to receive a handwritten note from friends rather than e-communication

The research does however point out that not everyone is a fan of putting pen to parchment. The research found that 11% of Brits hadn’t sent a card or letter for over 5 years, and 12% of men haven’t sent one in over 11 years.

5 years?! 11 years?!! To me, this seems almost unimaginable, so I was quite surprised that the figure was as high as it was. We in the industry obviously have to keep encouraging people to send letters, notes and greetings cards; making the most of campaigns such as Thinking of You Week and Festive Friday.



11% of the respondents said they had not sent a handwritten card or letter in the past five years.


12% of men surveyed  haven’t sent a handwritten card or letter for over 11 years

Stationery Boosts the Personal Touch

The research also showed that the popularity of the “personal touch” handwritten messages, has been matched with an uplift in pen & pencil sales for the supermarket. Over 4 and a half million pens and pencils were sold across Sainsbury’s stores last year, which if lined up end to end in a single line would be long enough to stretch the length of Great Britain (approximately 700km long); strange but true fact for us there!


10% year-on-year uplift in pen & pencil sales for Sainsbury’s.

This new research arrived at the same time as the London Stationery Show was having its biggest year ever. With 160 exhibitors and 300 stationery brands shown, the event had 9% more visitors than in 2016; representing 43 stationery-loving countries.

The show also registered the biggest number of entries for its Stationery Awards with a massive 400 new products submitted in the hope of taking home a coveted award.


This year’s London Stationery Show saw its biggest number of visitors ever; with a 9% increase on 2016.

Over 400 new products were entered into the 2017 Stationery Awards.

Spread the Word

I wanted to share this research with you as I think it shows us that there is still a need for old style snail mail and real greetings cards even in the digital world.

We do all need to keep this going however and keep people excited about cards, stationery and handwritten messages. A great example of this in practice is from our good friend Jeremy Corner, Director of greetings card publisher Blue Eyed Sun. In case you’ve missed it, Jeremy started a mission at the beginning of the year called The Greeting Card Project. The aim was to make a video about greetings cards every week; buying and sending cards to feel more connected to friends and family. Along with this Jeremy also believed the project would shed light on the power of greeting cards, and so far he’s been spot on!



I’ve been watching the videos since the start of the year and I’m always delighted to see the greetings cards picked and the card shops visited. If you haven’t seen the videos already please do check out The Greeting Card Project series on Jeremy’s YouTube channel.

It would also be great if you could take inspiration and try to send more cards, letters, doodles and handwritten messages; a “note to self ” there for me too. It’s fair to say that your friends and family will love the personal touch a lot more than a text.


Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share this post with your friends!