Stationery Week

Modern Calligraphy - what's it all about?

Modern Calligraphy - what's it all about?

It's National Stationery Week - and today's theme is #PenandPencil. So it makes perfect sense to talk today about a fast growing trend: Modern Calligraphy. Why are people getting hooked, and what exactly is it all about?

The London Stationery Show 2016

What an amazing event the 2016 Stationery Show turned out to be! The two-day show on the Tuesday and Wednesday of National Stationery Week was the biggest, and I would say, by the far the best yet. With 155 exhibitors compared to just 71 five years ago, the show attracted a record number of visitors...

Last year I asked exhibitors to make the most of the marketing opportunity that entering the Stationery Awards presents – and they didn’t disappoint.

The entries in 2016 were up more than 100 on 2015 at 350 new product entries, which made for an excellent competition. I was lucky enough to Chair the Awards again this year and was pleased that the Judges were thrilled by the strength and diversity of the products entered.  With four new Judges on the panel there were comments about how useful it was to see focused selections of new products to evaluate and compare.  They were all making notes of products they wanted to follow up on.

Nuco International also had a successful Guinness World Record attempt for the World’s Largest Notebook!

To celebrate World Stationery Day (Wednesday, 27 April) Rebecca Saunders, Head of Development at notonthehighstreet.com, and Phil Pond of trend forecasters Scarlet Opus were invited to speak.

“Rebecca and Phil’s presentations proved that there is everything to play for in the stationery market as the products are recognised not only as making perfect gifts and self-gifting treats, but also as accessible fashion items and accessories,” said Chris Leonard Morgan, organiser of The London Stationery Show.

For me, The London Stationery Show has given life back to the UK retail stationery market; we now have a forum in this country where we can see the best of the stationery available in the UK so retailers can offer it to UK consumers. The market has a growing vitality and is gathering real momentum - which is very exciting.

I have worked in the industry since 1989 and despite threats of paperless offices in the 1990’s, the disappearance of paper diaries because of electronic organisers, and mobile phones as we entered the new millennium - our love of stationery has endured and sales of paper and pens are still strong. The biggest threat currently is our children not being encouraged to write and/or draw, and losing their manual dexterity because of the use of computers and iPads in schools. (More on this in my next blog.)

The 2016 show was a fantastic success and there is no reason to think 2017 won’t be great too. I for one am already looking forward to it!

What's HOT in stationery: Humour, Fun and Colouring-in

Welcome to my last blog in this mini-series celebrating this year's stationery trends... If you'd like to start at the beginning - click here.

Humour is as important in the stationery market as it is in cards and one publisher having significant success in stationery at the moment is Ohh Deer using their own designs as well as those licensed from Gemma Correll. They have developed a range of great stationery formats all manufactured in the UK from notebooks in various sizes, to pencil cases and post it notes. 

Whether cute and cuddly ahhh variety or the more direct one liner that makes you smirk or laugh out loud – it’s a popular genre! Having humour as part of your offer can make a real difference to the ambience of a shop and I think there is nothing nicer than a group of friends finding a display of products that they spend some time looking through because it makes them laugh.

But it's worth remembering that there are so many good ranges available this year that retailers are going to need to be really focussed to ensure they chose ranges that their customers are going to want rather than being tempted by what they themselves find funny - which is always a danger for a buyer. 

While I am enjoying seeing more and more paper stationery being made in the UK and thrilled by the investment being made in new machinery which enables great product and design innovations there are plenty more general gift companies like Mustard, Suck and Kikkerland offering bright, affordable and fun accessories like erasers and sharpeners which will brighten up any stationery range and make great pick-up lines to drive average transaction values which is what all retailers are after (see here for more retail tips for growing sales). 

And what about colouring-in in 2016? Colouring was a great bonus at the end of 2015 driving strong sales of books at £10 plus as well as add on purchases of colouring pencils and pens which really helped to increase average transaction values often getting them up to £20. The colouring trend seems to be carrying on nicely into 2016 with new formats like greetings cards and even bed linen from companies like Egg Nog being introduced, and I am sure there are at least another 6 months of good sales to get out of this area - even if there isn’t a second big Christmas.