At the turn of the millennium there was a significant rise in the use of electronic organisers, Blackberries were 'the thing', and mobile phones started to add all sorts of features like diaries and calendars. There was a real belief that Filofaxes, the management tool of the 80’s and 90’s, and paper dairies and calendars would soon be a thing of the past!
Whilst I am sure most of us use these tools on our phones - how many of you have also bought paper 2018 diaries and calendars? I have, and I bought them in September, so I could start to see the year ahead. Electronic versions are all very well for meeting invitations, day to day time management and syncing with your computer but there is nothing like seeing the week or month laid out in front of you for helping plan, managing family time at home and allowing you to keep functioning when you are out of wifi range or the system is down!!!
The reality is that while most of us will use the functions on our phones we use paper too, I accept I am very old school, but I have 2 paper diaries for work and personal and an organiser in the kitchen for the family. If you too are a paper user I am sure you have a preferred layout as well: mine is week to view with notes!
The market for diaries and calendars is still huge with over 16million calendars sold every year. Diaries are either full year, academic, or mid-year, whilst calendars are usually full year and come in lots of different sizes. You might include wall planners here too. Within each of these categories there are all sorts of formats. Far from being a dying market it is full of interesting innovations in terms of design and function and many are linked to organising and life planning.
For the last 10 years or so there has been a real focus on tools to help us be more organised and juggle busy lives - often aimed at mums. There are some fantastic products out there and Busy B have great looking products on offer that work well too. A good example is their Family Diary which has space for up to five schedules, birthday reminders, monthly planners, contacts pages, pockets for loose notes and tickets, a pen loop and a slot on the inside back cover for their sticky notes all kept closed with an elastic closure.
3 years ago, we saw a huge increase in adult colouring which highlighted the therapeutic benefits of these type of activities and this has fed in to products linked to mindfulness, goal setting and journaling. Kikki -K’s range is built around this idea. Undated 5-year diaries are a more traditional way of doing this allowing you to note key memories from each day and then look back over the years. These new undated products definitely fit into the organiser, life planner area of the market and are driving strong growth. There are some amazing products in the market which are well worth looking at including the Trigg Life Mapper which is described as ‘a productivity diary that transforms your goals into success... bringing planning, habit & mindfulness to a fresh journal format'.
The look of diaries and calendars has changed significantly too. Back in the 80’s diaries were often plain blue, black or red or if they were personal might reflect a hobby like fishing or carry a classic floral print. Now a diary or calendar is less likely to be provided for you by your employer because they want you to use an electronic planner that others can access so any paper product you use you will probably have to buy for yourself. There are a myriad of designs and finishes to choose from and they are now seen as an accessory that reflects your personality and this has given publishers a great opportunity to broaden their ranges from humour, through to florals or the latest on trend colour.
The well-established diary publishers like Letts and Collins offer huge ranges of products but there are other well established brands like Dataday and The Dodo Pad celebrating their 50th anniversary this year.
The newer publishers in the market include Go Stationery, Portico Designs and Graphique, all with exciting ranges which offer us lots of interesting products to choose from. And then of course there are retailer own brand ranges too.
The calendar market is also going from strength to strength driven by the increasing importance of licensing in this sector and the phenomenon of Calendar Club with their pop up shops which drive massive volume sales from October -December. They have a huge range of hundreds of titles covering locations, dog breeds, celebrities and all sorts of humour.
Portico Designs always have an interesting cross section of humour and design-led licensed calendars too including this year’s Caroline Gardner titles.
When I worked as a buyer at the National Trust my remit included calendars and diaries and for us it was important to be able to print our range in the UK. Initially it was difficult to get all the formats we wanted in the UK at prices that matched or bettered those from China but eventually we managed it and the flexibility it gave us on lead-times and volumes made a significant difference. Go stationery is one of these producers.
So as we head towards 2018 I think it is safe to say that there is still a strong demand for paper diaries and calendars I cannot see them disappearing any time soon certainly not in my life..