This is my second blog on stationery in celebration of Stationery Week 25 April - 1 May 2016... (you can check out my first blog here on what's hot in stationery).
At this time of year I always look out for industry award winners; regardless of the sector I am working in there are awards being won that are relevant to my area and it is a great way of finding new products and suppliers that might have passed you by. The awards that have been judged so far this year are the Gift of the Year awards you can see the winners and highly commended lines as well as the products that were shortlisted on the Giftware Association’s website. The British Craft Awards are new this year and the winners were announced on 21st February, the Brand Licensing Awards were announced on 20th April and The Stationery Awards will be announced today (Tuesday 26th April).
This year's Award winners are an excellent source of exciting new products that have been recognised by fellow buyers in the market as having strong sales potential, and hopefully some are from new suppliers you have not worked with previously.
Another market trend of note is that licensing continues to grow in importance in all sectors with licensees feeling it is relatively low risk as they buy the rights to use designs they feel are relevant to their target customers. The creative licensors are seemingly happy to earn some money while not having to invest in producing stock - and hopefully consumers are happy that they can buy their favourite designs on an ever broadening set of products. Notably, the iconic British fashion designer Matthew Williamson has teamed up with Museum and Galleries to produce a beautiful range of stationery which launched at Spring Fair it will be interesting to see how this is extended by other manufacturers as they seek a share of its success.
Many of the new entrants to the stationery market this year are card publishers wanting to broaden their product offer and drive bigger order values but Top Drawer also saw the well-known illustrator Laura Stoddart launch her first ranges of stationery and gifts which are beautifully detailed and made in the UK - and they received a very positive reaction.
In my recent Top Tips blog, I recommended keeping an eye on the new shopping trends we are seeing in the market and using these to influence your approach to sourcing new products, pricing your ranges, and managing your displays.
Which brings me to pricing: It's worth noting that the trend towards producing some smaller and therefore less expensive products should be followed with caution. In 2015 I noticed some greetings card publishers offering cards that retail for two-thirds of the price and while I can see that this is appealing to customers, as a retailer I always worry that if you won’t see a big enough volume uplift in sales - and actually your sales go backwards because the customer would have bought a £2.50 card if you hadn’t given them the cheaper option!
In my next blogs I'll be looking at more stationery trends - including 'humour, fun and colouring-in' and the 'art of Thank You notes'!