Top Stationery Trends for 2010
By Kathy Krassner
The struggling economy continues to influence consumers'
spending, retailers' buying, and manufacturer's product development. While
there seems to be a greater sense of optimism in our industry than there was a
year ago, the direction for many new stationery products is higher value with
lower price points.
"Price will continue to be the deciding factor for the
vast majority of the industry's customers," asserts Valerie Cooper,
director of the Greeting Card Association, adding, "On the positive side,
Americans will be looking to substitute cards for bread-and-butter gifts."
"Consumers are looking for products that provide real
utility, selecting products that really do get used and provide value,"
says Glen Biely, co-president of Madison Park Greetings. "I believe the
overall mood for 2010 will be 'cautiously optimistic,' which will strongly
influence consumer purchasing habits. Consumers will stick with the basics
while carefully beginning to dip their toe more and more back into
discretionary spending." Biely also believes that manufacturers and
retailers this year will be going deeper with fewer looks, as opposed to
broader with a wide variety of looks.
"I think consumers will continue to be cautious in
their spending, but I do think they will still spend," relates Katie
Vincent, president/CEO of both Pinney Kelly Paper and donovandesigns. "Our
customers are looking for great, unique gifts for $25 or under. We stock our
store with items priced between $10 and $30. Most of our higher-priced items
are personalized, which is great because we don't have to hold the inventory --
just have the albums available."
"Creating product that stands out through unique design
and perceived value is key to winning the battle at retail," states Don
French, president of C.R. Gibson.
As consumer awareness rises and the price of eco-friendly
production comes down, the "green" trend is probably one that's here
to stay. "The eco-friendly paper trend will continue, and more vendors
will be offering eco-friendly papers as an option," relates Karen
Gilliland, chief marketing officer at Finestationery.com.
It's not enough to be green, however; consumers want
stationery products that are both environmentally friendly and fashionably
appealing. "An 'eco-chic' aesthetic has developed, whereby environmentally
friendly materials and processes are used for designs that are not exclusively
ecological in theme -- such as high-style geometric designs on recycled
papers," observes French.
Also in style, he says, is the use of natural elements on
stationery products. "Natural elements continue to be popular in response
to heightened consumer interest in the environment," French explains.
"Treatments of leaves, flowers and insects can be found across all product
categories. Additionally, butterflies, dragonflies and birds can be seen woven
into intricate Florentine prints or combined in coordinating colors with
paisley patterns and Jacobean motifs." Joanne Fink, owner of Lakeside
Design, agrees: "Obviously, the green theme continues to strongly
influence product, both in terms of design and materials. I've seen a growing
interest in simplistic sophistication and less emphasis on the
attachments/embellishments that have been so popular this past decade. I
think we'll see more organic line
work, with nature elements -- birds, flowers, leaves, etc. -- interwoven into
"The green movement has made its way into every aspect
of American life, and greeting cards and stationery products are no
exception," confirms Cooper of the GCA. "Many more customers are
seeking social-expression products with recycled content, or paper sourced from
a sustainably managed forest. And, an increasing number of consumers are giving
preferential treatment to card publishers and retailers who have publicly made
a commitment to reduce waste and follow environmentally sound practices in
their day-to-day business operations."
Retailer anecdotes and manufacturer surveys confirm that
Americans are increasingly opting for humorous greeting cards and
other stationery-related items that make them smile.
"When things get rough, Americans turn to humor for an
emotional lift and to keep things in perspective," explains the GCA's
Cooper. "Look for increased purchases of fun, silly and laugh-out-loud
cards and notes."
"The economy has influenced the type of sentiment that
people want," observes Fink of Lakeside Design. "Currently, there are
two strong drivers for product: lighthearted humor and inspirational/spiritual
Adds Biely of Madison Park Greetings: "More than ever,
our industry will be counted on to deliver products that elicit a wide range of
feelings and emotions such as laughter, nostalgia, hope, friendship, comfort --
the common human attributes that connect us all."
Americans' fascination with celebrities is evidenced by the
popularity of the TV show/website TMZ, "People" magazine and other
media outlets that have made star-gawking a cultural phenomenon. That trend is
also influencing our market, as more celebrities partner with stationery
States Patti Stracher, manager of the National Stationery
Show: "Lilly Pulitzer, Vera Wang, Martha Stewart, Kate Spade, Delacroix --
these names have heated up the sophisticated, upscale stationery market. And,
of course, Miley Cyrus is an example of a tween bonanza in mainstream
social-stationery products." So now is Taylor Swift, who recently signed a
deal with American Greetings Corporation to create a line of greeting cards,
gift packaging, stationery and more.
Additionally, trade shows in our industry are increasingly
using celebrity tie-ins and appearances to garner traffic. For instance, look
for Wyland, Deborah Norville, Vanna White and Kathy Ireland at the CHA 2010
Winter Convention & Trade Show in Anaheim, CA, this month.
Thanks to better technology, "sound cards" have
recently proven to be consumer
favorites; and LED lights are popping up on new greeting cards, journal covers
and more. "Sound and light cards are expected to remain a real spark for
industry sales and consumer interest," says the GCA's Cooper.
Appealing to the sense of touch, the three-dimensional
effect of embossing is also increasing its reach, notes Denise Schroeck, founder
of dinky designs. "It all started with stampers, and now the list of
three-dimensional personalized products is ever growing," she says.
"Monogrammed items flew off the shelves in 2009 and
will continue to do the same in 2010," shares retailer Alison Kim Perry,
owner of Cute Buttons (see "Store Scene" on page 30), adding that,
"Notepads and hot-and-cold tumblers with single initials were items in our
store that sold well. Customers were disappointed when we had to tell them we
were sold out of As and Ks." Says Vincent of Pinney Kelly
Paper/donovandesigns: "Monograms are still very strong; and the bigger the
size of the monogram, the better. On foldover stationery, we are seeing
customers wanting the monogram almost the whole size of the card; and when it
is printed like that, it is smashing!"
"Personalized foldover notes will still be very strong
for 2010, and initial notes will do very well this year," agrees Daniel
Collier, principal of the manufacturer's rep firm Daniel*Richards.
"Personalization and mongramming are popular as a way
to reinforce individuality, or the unity of married couples, also emphasizing
the personal nature of written communication," remarks C.R. Gibson's
The latest decade to be revisited in the stationery category
is the 1970s, with iconic images from the era - such as peace signs and smiley
faces - experiencing a renewed popularity.
"Design trends for stationery are a flashback to the
1970s era," states Pinney Kelly Papers' Vincent, noting that "bright,
bold floral prints in a larger scale" are part of this trend.
Manufacturer's rep Douglas Moseman, president of Flemming Chalef, confirms that
peace symbols are "very viable" and appearing on many types of
Tying in with the "added value" trend, stationery products that feature more
intricate or unusual designs are finding favor among consumers.
"Intricately crafted cards and beautiful stationery are anticipated to
attract consumers in their search for that something special," says the
Stracher of the National Stationery Show points to the
popularity of intricate folds, noting that "layers of folded fabrics have
inspired origami-like designs in invitations, announcements and
accessories." She notes that this trend is especially big in the wedding
Offering an eye-catching twist to invitations and
announcements are "wraps" that add dimension and interest to the
product's presentation. Wraps are also now being creatively used on envelopes,
according to FineStationery.com's Gilliland.
"While the idea of printing a return address on an
envelope has been around for years, the latest trend is to use an envelope wrap
or 'fashion' wrap on the envelope," says Gilliland. "The wrap is applied
to the envelope and includes not only the return address, but also a design
element that matches or coordinates with the stationery or invitation. These
wraps can be the size of mailing labels and can be used to dress up and capture
the attention of the recipient."
Undoubtedly, social networking will continue to benefit both
retailers and manufacturers. "Having a store Facebook page is a
must," insists Perry of Cute Buttons. "Getting people to become your
friend is a fun way to promote your business and to let your customers know
about upcoming parties, events and the new products we just got in. Store
owners and employees have to update them on a regular basis for them to be
effective. We also use Facebook to congratulate our brides on their wedding
Says Schroeck of dinky designs: "The unexpected benefit
that manufacturers realize from social networking are larger orders. To
elaborate,Twitter/Linkedin/Facebook have provided an easy forum for people to
connect with old and new friends, ultimately rekindling old friendships or
building new ones. Having a larger social network means a larger holiday card
or invitation list."
"All of the social networking amazes me," remarks
Vincent of Pinney Kelly Paper/donovandesigns. "Makes you wonder what's
next. We use Twitter more so than Facebook for business. It is a great place to
show new products and to spread the word and get feedback. I don't see these
types of outlets going away anytime soon."
Eco-friendly coasters ($16/pack of eight) from Kamal
) are letterpressed on chipboard.
3. Humorous card ($2.95) from Mean Cards (773/209-0351;
www.meancards.com) reads: "it doesn't love you back (there's no app for that)."
4. Designer Jonathan Adler has partnered with Lifeguard Press
(800/992-3006; www.lifeguardpress.com) on a new line of stationery products, including these sticky notes
6. Monogrammed note collection ($15/set of eight) is
available from Copper Willow (310/237-5809; www.copperwillow.com).
8. "Peace, Love & Coffee" Tower of Notes ($14)
includes a pen and comes from Lady Jayne Ltd. (800/274-7685; www.ladyjayneltd.com).
9. A wrap with ribbon is featured on this "Earthy
Spring" invitation ($549/100) from Checkerboard Ltd. (800/735-2475; www.checkernet.com).