Marking your cards

A new report says the global stationery and cards market is set for strong growth in the coming years, and dealers are looking to take advantage of this trend with a range of products.

While the development of the internet has revolutionised how we communicate with each other over the past 25 years – most of us use email daily, and don’t send many old-style letters – many people still prefer to send physical cards to friends and relatives to commemorate birthdays, anniversaries and religious festivals.

Indeed, the UK public spent more than £1.7 billion in 2018 on greeting cards, according to the UK Greeting Card Market Report, undertaken by Echo Research and commissioned by the Greeting Card Association. Three-quarters of these sales came from ‘everyday’ cards – birthday, occasions cards and also ‘blank for your greeting’, usually with a catchy message’ or eye-catching design’ on the front.

“There is plenty of evidence to show that Generation Z and Millennials (18-34-year-olds) are fully engaged with cards and buy more volume than any other age-group,” says Amanda Fergusson, CEO of the Greeting Card Association. “This is an incredibly positive trend for the future of our industry. We still have a way to go to catch up with the US though – the US Postal Service reported 44 million extra cards were sent between 2017 and 2018 – which they say is due to Millennials.”

Rising fast

This is reflected in The Global Stationery and Cards Market, a new report by Inside Market Reports, which says that the global stationery and cards market is anticipated to rise at a considerable rate between 2020 and 2026. In 2020, the market has been growing at a steady rate and with the rising adoption of strategies by key players around the world, the market is expected to increase over the coming years.

Tim Browning, a director at Blake Envelopes, agrees that there is a movement back towards written communication. “For the last 15 years communication has become more and more reliant on digital platforms and, in recent years, this to the point of saturation,” he says. “The events and experiences of the last 12 months have only served to enhance this feeling. Yet through all this a counter-movement seems to be gathering momentum; the inherent value, reliability and authenticity of tangible written communication is cutting through the digital blur.”

And when people write cards and such like, they want to use quality products to make them stand out and be memorable – something that recipients will want to keep; the Greeting Card Association ran its #cardtokeep to this end last year.

Figures from business data provider Statistica show that, in 2019, UK households purchased more than £2.84 billion worth of stationery and drawing materials. While this was slightly down on figures for 2018, where £2.98 billion was purchased, it is still more than was bought in 2014 and 2015, showing that the market remains broadly stable, whereas other sectors, such as office stationery, have declined during the same time period.

Pandemic driver

Lawrence Savage, marketing manager at stationery, arts and crafts supplier ExaClair, notes that, despite an anticipated 2.8% overall decline in the global office stationery and supplies market during 2020, recent projections also estimate that the market will recover to reach somewhere between US$186.9-$217.9 billion by 2027. “Additionally, the value of the greeting cards sector should stabilise at around $7bn worldwide,” he adds.

“Nonetheless, premium stationery continues to be an area of growth. This has been particularly fuelled by recent trends – such as journaling, and the rising number of staff working from home, especially during the pandemic. The latter has also influenced the impact on the demand for more customisable greeting cards, with people having an increased desire to communicate with friends and loved ones using a more personal touch.”

One driver of demand for stationery and cards has been the pandemic, Lawrence adds. “There has been a significant uptick in home schooling and people working remotely – a recent IPSOS survey indicates that 54% of UK workers are now working from home more than one day a week – which has driven an uplift in online demand for items that can aid home-based learning, as well as keeping children and adults occupied within the home environment.” 

The most popular products have been across a range, Lawrence adds. “Writing instruments and notebooks remain the most popular items, with around a third of those working from home also seeking filing and organisation products,” he says. Having a larger number of remote workers has also had the knock-on effect of creating more family time, which has stimulated growth in the number of arts and crafting hobbyists.  “Thus, there has been more demand in activities such as origami and other paper crafts like card making.” 

Lawrence adds that he anticipates a variety of products to be popular in the coming months – and, again, this will be influenced to some degree by the pandemic. “Notebooks and desktop accessories that are treated with antimicrobial additives to protect against bacteria, viruses, mould and fungi are very much in the public mind at the moment,” he says. “Also, the ability to create a versatile home office environment which not only maintains worker efficiency, but also offers ergonomic and eco-friendly items which easily integrate into their surroundings, is a trend that is set to continue influencing future product design.

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