While ‘green’ and antimicrobial products continue to offer room for innovation as well as meeting an established customer demand it is creative design that is adding a renewed sparkle to the stamping and marking category.
Indeed the move to increased innovation by way of design creativity in general was highlighted at this year’s European Office Products Awards (EOPA) which featured a Design Excellence category for the first time.
Don’t be surprised to see the big stamping and marking manufacturers picking up an award over the next few years especially with companies such as Colop bringing together focus groups to help create new and enticing looks.
A prime example of this is Colop’s decision to form a focus group of women from its various departments and produce a line of stamps for purchasing managers and global end users.
The first product of its type to be made by women for women, the range features vintage style and pastel colours and is described by Colop’s Sales and Marketing Director Franz Ratzenberger as “inspired by romance and nostalgia, lending it a very vintage feel”
Over at Trodat, the Mobile Printy has brought innovation to the school year with a new pocket design for school children that again highlights the increased desire for new design aesthetics.
Wholesaler VOW endorses the view that the education sector offers excellent opportunities for innovation as well as healthcare.
Simon McLoughlin, Category Head, Traditional Office Products, VOW adds: “Motivational stamps for the education sector and antimicrobial stamps for the healthcare arena both probably present the best opportunities for innovation as these areas are selling relatively well.”
Indeed, antimicrobial and healthcare is a real growth opportunity in the stamps and marking category according to VOW.
“Antimicrobial will be a key development for next year, with doctors and healthcare establishments a key focus for sales,” McLoughlin explains. “We see this as a growth area going forward. Dealers have the opportunity to promote these products not just to the health sector but also to catering and larger workspaces.”
Colop’s Ratzenberger confirms that antibacterial products have become a more and more important field in the office product business, especially where stamps are used by many different people such
as in the health sector, banks, education, tourism, etc.
McLoughlin also sees the environmental option as an enticement for sales in stamping and marking although by definition as they are small in size and long-lasting they have far less environmental impact than many other categories.
Nevertheless the ability to re-ink stamps with replacement inks is of significance here.
While Colop was the first company in the stamp business to introduce a line of ‘green’ stamps in the market in 2008 with its GreenLine products, Trodat has been busy analysing and reducing its carbon footprint.
Trodat has been extending the number of its products which are recognised as being carbon neutral and from this year more than 70 of the company’s best-selling products come with carbon neutral certification.
The products are made with the highest content of recycled plastic that it could technically achieve, with the residual CO2 footprint of these products offset by investments in Gold Standard climate protection projects recommended by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
WWF’s Dr Hildegard Aichberger says: “This should be preferred to just offering green secondary product lines because of the more positive climatic effect.”
So exactly how is the stamping and marking market right now and what does the future hold? For Colop it’s something of a mixed bag with some regions decreasing in demand while some are growing and others remaining stable.
The South East European and East European markets are developing well for Colop – especially Russia –while growth can also be seen in Latin America as well as from Asia. The company also sees a lot of potential in Germany where more than half of all stamps sold are still “old-fashioned” hand stamps which can be replaced by modern self-inking.
As a whole the market is hard to assess as it is not well tracked with little data out there, reliable or otherwise, but it certainly seems that the educational and healthcare areas are of most potential here.
In terms of current and future trends alongside antimicrobial and motivational areas, wholesalers are still seeing demand for custom stamps that allow businesses and individuals to personalise their stamp. In the words of McLoughlin: “In some departments, particularly in smaller companies, the stamp is still likely to be regarded as a workhorse and an old favourite.”
Alongside the aforementioned move towards design-orientated stamps with the product being embraced as more than just a functional requirement, Colop has also seen significant growth in online sales in many of its active regions.
Of course recognising trends is one thing but capitalising on them is something quite different. In these terms marketing is still an area that needs particular consideration especially in such a narrow category. The use of social media, especially with the trend of stamps being used as lifestyle accessories, is vital. Colop for one has been active on Facebook for a while and uses the platform to inform, entertain and communicate directly with the end user.
Timing your marketing is also vital as there is usually a peak in demand at the start of the new catalogue year.
Taking an overall approach to this segment it certainly seems that enforcing stamps as a lifestyle item and not just a workplace product is the most exciting opportunity here if allied to the right marketing in keeping with this creative-led area.