Bullet Journaling Trend Lifts Sales of Notebooks and Writing Instruments, Reports NPD

Port Washington, NY, June 26, 2018 – Creative trends such as adult coloring and slime-making took the U.S. office supplies industry by storm in recent years. Today, bullet journaling is one of the latest crazes in creative expression, and it is helping to drive up sales of traditional supplies including notebooks and writing instruments, according to data from global information company The NPD Group.* With much social media buzz around the trend, including over two million Instagram posts containing the hashtag “#bulletjournal,” there is also a budding online market for bullet journal sales, with women making two-thirds of the purchase, according to Checkout.**

Defined as “the analog system for the digital age,” bullet journal’s creator Ryder Carroll says “it can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above.” Unlike appointment books and planners, notebooks traditionally used for bullet journaling are filled with plain, unruled pages, leaving the organization and personalization up to the individual.

Over the past year, U.S. consumers have spent nearly $210 million at retail for unruled spiral, composition, graphing, and other notebooks – an 18 percent increase in sales over the prior year. Select writing instruments commonly used for this activity have also seen growth, including color markers (+17 percent); paint markers (+9 percent); permanent markers (+6 percent); gel pens (+6 percent); and porous pens (+5 percent).*  

“Today’s continuously evolving digital transition makes for challenging times in the office supplies industry, but there’s still plenty of opportunity for traditional products to spark interest and maintain relevance,” said Tia Frapolli, president of The NPD Group’s Office Supplies practice. “As bullet journaling and its close relative hand lettering are the most recent trends to emerge, it’s clear that notebooks and writing instruments remain important to consumers’ lives in terms of creativity, self-expression, and productivity.”

NPD’s Checkout E-commerce Tracking, which is based on information collected from more than three million consumers through data provided by our partner Slice Intelligence, found that generationally, the trend’s popularity is growing among young Millennials (ages 18-24), as they have purchased more bullet journals online in the past year. NPD’s Checkout also uncovered that overall bullet journal buyers made more office supplies purchases online than non-buyers, and spent $40 more on office supplies annually, indicating they are heavier consumers of this industry as a whole. As 61 percent of bullet journal buyers purchased writing instruments online in the same year, they are more likely than non-buyers to buy a wider array of writing products including traditional and specialty pens, fine pens and pencils, color markers, and paintbrush pens.**

“While younger generations are the most tech-savvy of them all, but they are also the ones putting a fresh spin on ‘back-to-basics’ and driving these types of trends,” said Frapolli. “Retailers and manufacturers in the office supplies space need to nourish this consumer penchant for digital detoxing.”


*Source: The NPD Group/ Retail Tracking Service, 52 weeks ending April 7, 2018
**Source: The NPD Group/ Checkout E-Commerce Tracking, 12 months ending March 2018

delivers the most comprehensive view of consumer purchase behavior for general merchandise categories, across all retailers over time, to help you understand how to adjust your marketing to fuel growth. Checkout E-commerce offers the most complete and accurate view of the online channel – 600+ e-commerce retailers including Amazon, Walmart, top industry specific retailers, direct-to-consumer and emerging players. Information is collected from more than 3 million consumers, through data provided by our partner Slice Intelligence and NPD’s own proprietary receipt-harvesting mobile phone app.

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