Perhaps more associated with cheap and cheerful thank you cards – stationery isn’t exactly the sexiest of products.

The market seems to have gone through something of a resurgence in recent years, however, partly thanks to a swathe of cool new brands like Papier.

But with a focus on quality products and cool, creative partnerships – Papier has won a shed load of millennial fans (definitely too old to be buying ‘back to school’ supplies).

I recently heard CEO & Founder, Taymoor Atighetchi, speak at Ometria’s Lifecycle ’18 conference. Here’s more on what he said, specifically relating to why Papier appeals to a millennial audience.

Spotting a gap in the market

The personalised product market – particularly in terms of stationery and gifting – has typically been one of extremes. On one hand, there are luxury brands like Smythson, which sells personalised notebooks for no less than £75 – and often much more.

On the other, brands like Moonpig and VistaPrint sell cheap products on a big scale, using easy templates to make ‘personalisation’ available to the masses.

For Taymoor Atighetchi, CEO of Papier, there was an obvious gap in the market – a brand that’s able to fulfil the needs of modern consumers looking for quality, tasteful, and affordable products.

Indeed, Papier has been able to satisfy that need, offering consumers high-quality and personalised products ranging from invitations to children’s books.

A design-led approach

So, what makes Papier’s approach different from its competitors, both below and above its price point?

According to Atighetchi, it’s not just about sticking a name on a notebook. In other words, design is absolutely key. So, instead of the bog-standard stationery found on the high street, the brand takes inspiration from the worlds of fashion and art, forging creative partnerships in order to deliver design-led products.

Previous partnerships include London’s art and design museum, the V&A, fashion designer Matthew Williamson, and even big brands like Disney.

There’s an authority that comes with these partnerships that Papier is able to capitalise on. Disney fans, for example, are likely to have snapped up Disney collection, even if they’d never come across Papier beforehand.

By partnering with lesser-known illustrators and artists, too, Papier is able to build its reputation as a brand that cares about real creative talent and authentic partnerships – not just big names.

In terms of the products themselves, creative partnerships also help the brand tap into specific customer demographics. Weddings continues to be a valuable category, for example, with ‘brides to be’ or those involved in wedding planning eager to snap up unique and fashionable designs.

Whether the consumer is interested in ornate design or modern trends, collections allow consumers to inject a bit of their own personality into invitations or thank you cards (on top of standard personalisation, such as names and copy detail).

In comparison to this, competitor brands feel formulaic, and just a bit dull.

Creating a lifestyle brand

By celebrating creativity in fashion, art, and design, Papier naturally appeals to customers that are interested in these verticals too, creating an investment that goes above and beyond stationery.

In this sense, it has become more of a lifestyle brand than a stationery supplier.

The Fold, which is Papier’s online magazine, is another extension of this. It’s also emphasised by Atighetchi’s insistence that it is not your average brand ‘blog’ – a label that he feels lessens its value.

Econsultancy’s Content Strategy Best Practice Guide

There are certainly elements that make it feel more valuable than typical content marketing. It is released in monthly ‘issues’, for example, with staggered content helping to build investment and anticipation in consumers.

Its thematic nature is also effective – each monthly issue takes on a specific theme, usually to coincide with a new collection launch or popular seasonal events.

Naturally, email is also a big focus for Papier, with personalisation elements also allowing the brand to appeal to individual interests and needs.

It also uses the channel to communicate with and reward loyal customers, using discounts and perks to make regular buyers feel valued.

papier email
Image via Ometria

In-person elements

While there are benefits to being an online-only brand (like being more cost effective), Atighetchi recognises that there are limitations that come along with it too. Without a physical experience, brands can feel removed from consumer’s everyday lives, especially in comparison to high street retailers.

When it comes to things like wedding invitations, Papier instils confidence in customers by offering samples before they are required to make a final purchase.

Customer service is also used to bridge the gap, with the brand taking pride in one-to-one communication, and always ensuring that customers’ needs are met (especially when it comes to timely events such as weddings or parties).

Another way Papier makes up for its lack of physical stores is by creating a physical presence in other ways. Papier Atelier is the brand’s events vertical – a way to “connect guests to a world of creativity and design through a series of curated events”. This usually involves workshops – allowing consumers to learn skills and activities related to the brands core products – and partnership events, e.g. a Q&A with a designer like Henry Holland.

Alongside this, the brand often makes a point of appearing at trade shows and other industry-related events, where people are able to put a ‘face to the brand’, and align their online experience with an offline one.

In doing so, customers are able to feel more of an affinity to the brand, and feel more inclined to recommend or share their experience with others. Unsurprisingly, the brand’s Instagram feed is often flooded with fans using the brand’s self-penned hashtag, #lovepapier.

Six lessons we can learn from the best stationery brands on InstagramFor more brand stories, come along to the Festival of Marketing 2018, Oct 10-11 in East London.