The latest trends around creative expression, from slime and “floam” to coloring and crafts, are driving U.S. sales of office supplies ahead of Easter, according to The NPD Group. The company reports this double-digit sales growth seen across coloring and art related categories suggests that a different wave of items may be joining the chocolate bunnies and stuffed animals in Easter baskets this year.
“Today’s art and handmade movement are positively impacting office supplies sales. This is leading to a higher rate of engagement by consumers in the market with traditional office and school supply items,” says Leen Nsouli, director and office supplies industry analyst for The NPD Group. “Children and adults alike are sharing in these trends — participating individually, socially, and as a family — and I believe this creativity will influence families as they design Easter baskets for children and young adults this year.”
Sales growth, according to The NPD Group, includes:
Start with the Basket: Washi tape has become a well-known staple in creative wrapping, crafting, and décor. Dollar sales grew by 41% in the 52 weeks ending February 25, 2017, and actual unit sales more than doubled. Consumers are buying tape with patterns, logos, and designs, with those sales up 31%. These tapes are being used conjointly with gift wrapping, journaling, planner personalization, poster-making, and more.
Join the Coloring Craze: Colored pencil sets and coloring pages experienced the highest dollar sales growth in the industry during this time. Sales grew by $49.2 million (+27%)—outpacing total industry gains—and $39.7 million (+26%), respectively. The coloring trend has also positively impacted pen and marker sales; traditional pens and color and permanent markers grew a combined $45.4 million. Spring-related colors including green, purple, and violet were among the traditional pen colors experiencing the highest percent growth.
Make a Splatter: Painting and paint supply category sales are also reaping the benefits of creative expression, driven by acrylic paint, which comprises one-third of category sales; paintbrush pens, which grew its sales by 47%; and painting accessories — the second largest category.
Add an Unexpected Twist: Beyond the canvas, consumers are utilizing planners and notebooks as an outlet for personalization or creative expression. Coinciding with the addition of coloring pages and other personalized features, appointment book/planner sales grew by 9% and select notebooks by 8% — a combined increase of $39.8 million in one year.
“Consumers are becoming highly accustomed to a level of customization across product categories, services, and marketing communication that has never existed and before,” Nsouli says.
The need to feel unique and express that through personalized products and experiences is having an influence across industries, and office supplies is no exception. Industry players who are not taking advantage of these trends are missing out, he says.
“Manufacturers and retailers are already interacting with consumers on a daily basis through social media outlets, and this presents an opportunity to also play a part in shaping the next big trend,” Nsouli adds. “To be successful in today’s competitive retail environment, it’s crucial for industry players to think outside of the basket.”