HP recently debuted a new product called TwoSmiles. The innovative product combines the print-at-home greeting card with the increasingly popular gift card, enabling users to create and print both from the convenience of home using their inkjet photo printer. gap intelligence recently spoke to HP representatives to understand where the concept originated from and how the program is doing so far.

Among HP’s biggest and oldest strengths is at-home printing. While it is unquestionable that the popularity of home inkjet printing is falling, HP continues to find ways to bolster usage and improve the user experience. When photo printing was at its peak around 2006-2007, manufacturers primarily targeted busy moms who wanted to capture their family memories in a convenient way. While there are numerous options now available for photo printing that are both cheaper and easier than printing from home, the greeting card market is still largely untapped. Printed greeting cards get us out of the digital age for a moment and provide a tangible memento and special sentiment to the receiver. Personalizing those cards is now easier and more accessible than ever.

Gift cards are increasingly popular gifts, largely due to their convenience. It is an easy, low risk gift that recipients rarely balk at. While obtaining gift cards has become easier over the past several years with grocery stores carrying a large assortment and the ability to order online, both of these purchasing methods take time or require additional transportation. While gift cards are a safe and easy gifting choice, they can be construed as impersonal to some recipients. This challenge lends well to HP’s TwoSmiles concept, which brings the personal element back into the gift card.

As HP examined the existing pain points and potential possibilities associated with greeting cards and gift cards, it created the TwoSmiles program, which ultimately combines the two and can be ordered and purchased through a single portal. While digital cards are growing in popularity, HP identified a way to increase the value and importance of the printed greeting card. To some, greeting cards are almost nostalgic at this point, but the emotional payoff that both the giver and the receiver achieve remains relatively high.

So, how is the program doing so far? According to HP, the TwoSmiles program, which officially launched just before Mother’s Day, is off to a good start. The company employed a beta program for several months prior to the official launch and is still learning how the system can work best for its customers. The program includes an online portal, which offers card templates and creation tools, as well as the ability to order and attach the gift card to the final printed product. The cards and envelope pack includes 10 5×7 greeting cards and 10 envelopes for $9.99. The media kit is currently available at hp.com and Office Depot stores and online. HP revealed that it is looking to find more retail partners throughout the rest of the year.

While HP is among the first to offer a print-from-home greeting card and gift card combination, other companies are looking for ways to capitalize on the popularity of the gift card industry. Amazon.com and Facebook recently announced their joint venture where a Facebook user writes a birthday message to a friend and can attach an Amazon Birthday Gift in values of $5, $10, or $25. Both the message and the gift will appear on the person’s Facebook wall on their actual birthday. Facebook enables its users to purchase a number of gifts for “friends” with a simple click of a button. However, what differentiates HP and the TwoSmiles program is the inclusion of a printed card. Facebook allows users to gift their friends and even suggests gifts that the recipient might like. The process is seamless.

One could argue that print is a fleeting method of communication, but to many, the influx of the digital age is creating a nostalgic sense around print. Organizations like the American Forest and Print Association are creating campaigns to show people how important print still is. The web video that the organization released plays on the same emotional cues that HP is looking to touch with its Two Smiles program.

While the TwoSmiles product provides a solution for busy individuals to give a personalized gift, it does not go without its own challenges. The target audience for this product is niche. It will take time to gain traction with users and make the greeting card and gift card selection process an automatic choice when they are trying to come up with an easy, yet personal, gift idea. HP strategically launched the program during Mother’s Day, however mothers are a large portion of its target audience. HP will have to work hard to promote the concept during other popular holidays and key times throughout the year.

The product encapsulates several values that HP stands for including ease of use and convenience, helping people find ways that print can add value to their lives, and of course, increasing the number of printed pages that come out of HP printers. As the industry changes, HP, and all other inkjet printer manufacturers, have to work harder and provide more specific solutions and reasons for people to print. By offering a product that hits an emotional point and combines it with a convenient gift, HP may be on to something. I for one will never be able to replace the physical greeting card with a digital version!