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An Eco-Friendly Back-to-School

Aug 30, 2018
Tia Frapolli, President ;
Office Supplies

As a society, we’ve been hearing, reading, and thinking more and more about sustainability these days. Spearheaded by the Millennial generation, U.S. consumers are growing increasingly environmentally conscious, and are demanding transparency from brands and manufacturers when it comes to product production, materials, and ingredients. At NPD we’ve been talking a lot about sustainability across our industries, from apparel to sports and the outdoor market, and its presence in the office supplies space is no exception.

In office supplies, the market for products made from recycled materials is growing. With back-to-school on the brain, NPD data shows that school-related categories have experienced sales growth in products with recycled materials during the first six weeks of the back-to-school season; notably, loose filler paper notebooks with a 12 percent increase.* Dated products, including appointment books and calendars, is the largest category with 21 percent of the items sold in this group containing recycled materials.** 

According to a poll conducted by next generation polling and data mining company CivicScience, 31 percent of U.S. adults (age 25-64) report that sustainable materials is an important factor when determining what to purchase during back-to-school, with women over-indexing at 34 percent. Looking at the generational breakdown, the importance of such materials is most prominent among 25-34 and 35-44 year olds. 

As consumers look towards sustainable alternatives to traditional paper, reusable notebooks such as the Rocketbook, which is essentially a digital notebook that still provides users with a traditional “pen to paper” writing experience, as well as dry erase boards have become popular options. In fact, dry erase board sales grew by 8 percent in the first six weeks of the season.*

The sustainability movement continues to gain momentum, and the office supplies industry must carve out ways to support these eco-friendly values through their product development and brand messaging. This presents an important opportunity for revenue and innovation within the office supplies space.

*Source: The NPD Group/ Retail Tracking Service, 6 weeks ending August 4, 2018

**Source: The NPD Group/ Retail Tracking Service, 52 weeks ending July 7, 2018

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