Stationery users fall into two camps: those who just want a notebook to write in and a pen that works because "anything will do" (this article is absolutely not about them) and those who customise their stationery... those who really care!
When I was at school it was expected that you would personalise your stationery with names of sporting idols and pop bands with stylised writing like graffiti, doodles, flowers and geometric patterns. From notebooks to geometry sets, pencil cases to wooden pencil boxes, satchels to backpacks nothing escaped our attention...
Fast forward to 2017 and it is all the rage again but this time its for adults! Now its back in fashion and this time manufacturers are even supplying the kit of parts: in sticky pictures, numbers or letters, pens that will write on the surface... and this is not about appealing to children - these products are aimed at those who want to make a product exactly as they want it!
The stationery, card and craft markets are much more closely linked these days than they were 20 years ago and they influence each other a lot. In the early 2000’s, scrapbooking was a significant trend in the craft market coming over from America; it revolved around personalising pages of albums in ways that linked to the pictures being kept. The market was worth millions with pre-made packs of themed papers, inks, paints, markers, stickers etc. and retailers would devote a significant amount of space to this area. This is similar to the current trend of journaling in many ways except the latter will normally be more word based and annotated with pictures, doodles and other paraphernalia. 'Bullet journalling' in particular has become really popular recently, which focusses on schedules, to-do lists, and goals per week, month or even year.
One product that seems to embrace all of this perfectly is the Busy Days Planner from Boxclever Press because it combines the worlds of planning, scrapbooking and journaling. As well as a week-to-view diary, the planner also includes pages for each month to note ‘Hopes, plans and dreams’ and ‘That was the month that…’ with space to record memories, goals and plans for that month. The planner has been designed so that users can customise it as much or as little as they want adding photographs and mementos directly into the planner as well as their own cover design - because it is bound with a flexible disc binding, users can easily remove and add pages.
At Home and Gift Harrogate recently I noticed that Rachel Ellen, the well-known card publisher, had several products on her stand that encouraged the users to personalise their notebooks by including sheets of lettering stickers and fun images, and an organiser ready for you to add your name to the cover too.
Likewise, colouring which in 2015 became a huge craze linked to creativity and destressing, took the stationery world by storm; it was cited in the WH Smith half year figures as one of the major areas of sales growth for the period for the business overall. And while it was colouring books to start with this time round in 2017, there are now colour in card packs, pencil cases, posters and backpacks:
The trend in customisation is encouraging retailers to broaden their product offer and many are starting to stock chalk markers, glass markers, washi tape and various stickers so they have a selection of products available for use on all sorts of surfaces including paper, glass and balloons.
Retailers are seeing this as a way of engaging with their customers and Hobbycraft have a monthly blog which focusses on different projects and two this year have related to personalising stationery: one for notebooks and the other on wedding scrapbooks. Both blogs specify what accessories you need to create the finished article and then how to do it.
Personalisation takes it one step further and is a strong trend in its own right. Previously personalisation would have involved a white sticky label with your name written on it or if you were very flash a dymo tape where you had squeezed the letters out as evenly as possible. Now it can be anything from buying a product online and having your name or initials added to having photographs printed on to the covers.
Leuchturmm offer personalised notebooks and they are very popular offering a choice of two fonts; one modern, one more traditional. As a German company it can be an expensive option because of the postage costs but in the UK they have various businesses that offer this service including Prelogram and Pen Heaven. They also run in store promotion days where they offer a free print service with each purchase; they get big queues with some customers buying up to 10 books at a time. They are looking forward to doing the same in 2017 but dates and venues are still to be confirmed.
Paperchase are offering personalisation of their best-selling notebooks and diaries online - you can choose from a selection of typefaces to write either a fun or inspirational message or just your name.
Kikki K is a relatively new entrant to the UK market but they are really embracing the idea of DIY stationery with some products focussed very particularly on this. Their DIY Sticker Book contains lots of stickers, tags, quotes and envelope sealers in different formats and styles while the Paper Lovers Book contains things like notepaper, envelopes, cards, cake toppers and bookmarks.
And hot off the Smiggle press and new for Back to School 2017 is a range of wallets, stickers and backpacks which can be coloured in in your own style.
Being able to make your mark on your stationery is a strong trend in 2017 and not showing any sign of disappearing any time soon... so have you dedicated space for it in your shop?