Technavio’s latest global stationery and cards market report highlights three key emerging trends predicted to impact market growth through 2020. Technavio defines an emerging trend as something that has potential for significant impact on the market and contributes to its growth or decline.
The key vendors in the market include, Office Depot, Staples, Top Culture, and Walmart. However, Hallmark and American Greetings make up for almost 80% of the greeting cards market. The other prominent vendors in the market include ACCO Brands, Adveo, Ardent Group, American Greetings, El Corte Inglés, Hallmark Cards, Herlitz, Kaut-Bullinger, Kokuyo, Lyreco, Metro, Ryman Group, and WH Smith.
“Vendors operating in the market provide a diversified range of products to appeal to a wider consumer base. Some of these vendors directly sell their products to end-users to reduce their reliance on retailers. They keep customers abreast of ongoing market trends by speaking of offers that aid branding and differentiation,” says Abhay Sinha, one of Technavio’s lead industry analysts.
“Being a discretionary product, stationery and cards vendors are largely affected by the economic outlook. To stay at a sizeable position in the market, vendors must therefore continuously innovate and provide new designs and utility of products,” adds Abhay.
Technavio’s market research study identifies the following three emerging trends expected to propel the global stationery and cards market:
- Licensing of stationery;
- Product innovations; and
- Demand for green products.
Licensing is a popular trend that has been around for quite some time. The concept of licensing allows diversity and propels sales in the market through new product launches. Global sales of licensed merchandise reached $157-billion in 2013, whereby Asia’s emerging licensing market accounted for 12,7% of the world’s total. It is a trend that is anticipated to find tremendous popularity in all new and emerging markets for cards and stationery.
Licenses dealing with cartoon characters, movies, mobile games, TV shows, and sports stars are particularly popular and are used in the marketing of basic stationery products. These products display new and unique designs that are familiar to the consumer base, and this further drives its demand. With children anticipated to gain a greater role to play in consumer decisions, this strategy will thereby cause a major turnaround for the market over the next four years. For instance, Staples teamed up with Nickelodeon to offer exclusive Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and SpongeBob SquarePants designs on stationery products.
Designs are being centered on value-addition with enhanced appeal and additional convenience. Manufacturers are transitioning in terms of functionalities of stationery and cards by innovating with new designs, formats, and models. For instance, a pin-less stapler creates holes in sheets and interlocks all of them, thereby eliminating the need to use pins and refills the stapler. Notebooks, pens, and inks in different colors are becoming design-led products, while doubling up as fashion accessories.
To enhance their connect with consumers, vendors in the market are incorporating new technologies in greeting cards and stationery to increase their revenues and make them more appealing to consumers. Vendors are also using digital mediums to communicate with their consumers. For instance, the Jackpen, a writing instrument, can be inserted into the headphone socket of a mobile phone. Hallmark Cards have come up with sound cards, lenticular cards, and cards that have a voice changer, 3D motion, and lights. Such cards come with premium price tags and have a good demand in the market.
Demand for green products
Consumers are increasingly embracing lifestyles and processes that support green living. This is largely shaping buying pattern of individuals and commercial consumers, as they aim to consciously reduce the use of paper and paper-based products.
Vendors in the market are addressing this wave of environmental challenge by researching alternative materials and manufacturing products that are not only eco-friendly but are also functional and sophisticated. For instance, Glebe Cottage offers cards that use FSC-certified materials, alcohol-free printing process, vegetable-based inks, compostable bags, and green energy. Technavio researchers anticipate many similar product launches in the market over the next four years.