The latest trends around creative expression, from slime and “floam” to coloring and crafts, are driving U.S. sales of office supplies, according to global information company The NPD Group. The double-digit sales growth seen across coloring and art-related categories suggests that a different wave of items may be joining office-supply aisles.
“Today’s art and handmade movement is 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,” said Leen Nsouli, director, office supplies industry analyst, The NPD Group. “Children and adults alike are sharing in these trends – participating individually, socially, and as a family.”
These trends will appeal especially to Craft Supply Buyers. The latest AudienceSCAN study found 14.4% of U.S. adults intend to purchase crafts or sewing supplies this year.
Washi tape has become a well-known staple in creative wrapping, crafting, and décor. Dollar sales grew by 41 percent 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 percent. These tapes are being used conjointly with gift wrapping, journaling, planner personalization, poster-making, and more.
Office Supply stores can promote their crafty offerings in radio spots. According to the most recent AudienceSCAN research, 44% of Craft/Sewing Supply Buyers took action after hearing radio (over-the-air, online, mobile or tablet) commercials in the past year.
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 percent)—outpacing total industry gains—and $39.7 million (+26 percent), 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.
Gift shops and art supply stores can tout their colored pencils and the like in TV commercials. The AudienceSCAN survey found 32.5% of Craft Supply Buyers took action after seeing television spots in the past month.
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 percent; 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 percent and select notebooks by 8 percent – 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. 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,” said Nsouli. “Industry players who are not taking advantage of these trends are missing out. 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. To be successful in today’s competitive retail environment, it’s crucial for industry players to think outside of the basket.”