Personalization Driving School and Office Product Launches  9/28/2016

Consumers are personalizing every aspect of their lives, from their Instagram profile, to their Chipotle order, down to the color of their Nike shoes, and they are looking for this same flexibility in the products they purchase for their school and office needs, according to the attendees interviewed at the ECRM School & Office Efficient Program Planning Session (EPPS). 

“Products that provide consumers with the ability to personalize their experience is key, and manufacturers are finding various ways to succeed at this at retail,” said Leen Nsouli the Director, Industry Analyst, Office Supplies at The NPD Group in a blog recapping the trends discovered at the EPPS. “Manufacturers looking to take advantage of the trend around personalization and fashion are generating creative ideas,” Leen added. 
Brea, CA based Avery Products Corporation launched a new line of Peek A View binders that allow customers to personalize how the product looks. “The really cool thing about Peek A View is that the designs are printed on the inside clear cover,” said Ashley Wong, the product manager for binders at Avery Product Corporation. “We have free templates on where consumers can print their own images and slip it in the clear window,” Ashley added.

To address the trend of digital users expressing themselves via smiley faces, wink faces and hearts, New York City based Accessory Innovations developed their own brand of emoji themed products called EmojiNation. The EmojiNation line carries a range of items, from backpacks to pencil cases even plush backpack clips. According to Tracey Young, the national Sales Manager for Accessory Innovations, the Emojination line is their best seller.

Even the adult coloring book craze, which exploded last year, is evolving to offer more personalized options for people that love to color. Brewster Home Fashions, Randolph, MA got creative with their peel and stick line of wall décor called Wall Pops which allows consumers to color intricate designs which can then be stuck to the wall and easily removed without damage. This product is an extension of the adult coloring book trend and is perfect for a college student looking to spice up a plain dorm room.

The popularity of adult coloring books has triggered an unexpected jump in gel pens which haven’t seen much action since the late 90s and early 2000s. According to one attendee, “Consumers come into the store looking for coloring books and gel pens are a great incremental purchase to go along with that.”

Buyer’s Choice Awards:

During the EPPS, suppliers entered one product into the running in hopes of being named as the Buyer’s Choice Award winner. The winners were determined by the attending buyers who voted for their favorite.

The following items received top honors:
  • 1st Place: C-Line for their Classroom Connector School to Home Folder, a 2 pocket folder with ‘Home’ and ‘School’ designations.
  • 2nd Place: Kittrich for their ezDesk E100, a multifunctional work station.
  • 3rd Place: Plano Molding/Creative Options for their Medium Storage Rack, a customizable storage container.
For more information about how you can participate in the 2017 School & Office EPPS, please contact Chris Eyring at

1st Place - Buyer's Choice Award Winner: C-Line for their Classroom Connector School to Home Folder
2nd Place - Buyer's Choice Award Winner: Kittrich for their ezDesk E100, a multifunctional work station
3rd Place - Buyer's Choice Award Winner: Plano Molding/Creative Options for their medium Grab n’ Go Rack
The buyers has a difficult choice selecting items to be named as the Buyer's Choice Award winners.
Leen Nsouli of The NPD Group presented the back-to-school insights.
Leen spoke about tax free holidays, early/late start dates and much more!
***Supplier tip: Use your meeting time wisely. Make sure to get down to business as soon as possible.
***Supplier tip: Research beforehand. The more you know about who you're meeting with the better the meeting will go.
***Supplier tip: Make sure to follow up with the buyer within their timeframe and in the manner they specify.
Check out some of the newest and trending items for 2017!

Rachel Mayfield

Director of Marketing

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