The diverse Arts and Crafts industry continues its upward trend, reflecting the growing desire for individuality in a culture of mass production, and providing an opportunity to express personality.

For the shopper, there is a need to discover, to be inspired and to know how to achieve results. For the brands that are aiming their products in the Arts, Crafts, Stationery, and Creative hobbyist sector, they have to engage with the shoppers in busy and often cluttered retail environments, where space is at a premium and the store can be jam-packed with me-too merchandise.

Frontline took a trip to Creativeworld and Paperworld in Frankfurt to talk to some of the top brands about such issues, and to see what’s new in the industry.

Our first stop was Creative World, and we were dazzled by colour. Brilliant pinks, oranges, purples, and neon greens flowed through the arts, crafts and hobby halls, from vibrant decoupage products to jazzy mixed media art.

Handmade and Made By Me themes were abundant, with the Trend Zone showing some of the simplest techniques to create beautiful touches. Stylishly cut paper enhanced ordinary clear glass bottles and silver sprayed feathers added a touch of elegance to modest white gift boxes.

Fun use of shapes and colour adorned everything from envelopes to walls, with coloured paper strips creating diverse patterns and effortless marbling techniques making cups and bowls look striking.

We loved the artistic section, with original accessories being made from knotting and fabrics, and paint being experimented with on plain household items.

Bright, flamboyant colours were a key trend throughout both Creativeworld and Paperworld, with the Back to School focused products, professional stationery and even Home Office, adding colourful lines to their more traditional offerings.

Mark Purat, Key Account Manager for Casio’s Office & School Equipment, showed off their award winning range of brightly coloured calculators. He told us how these have proven very popular and that they have seen an up-turn in sales since adding the colour range to the traditionally black products.

As well as colourful, the impact of the latest blockbuster movies was evident in the School age ranged products, from back packs and pencil cases to files and folders, boasting popular characters from films such as Frozen and How To Train Your Dragon.

One of the growing trends in the sector is Mixed Media Art, producing new ways to use traditional materials, such as oil and watercolour. Stunning effects were on display as artists demonstrated techniques to design dramatic pieces of wall art using a mix of resources.

This area in particular highlights the challenges brands face in engaging

with shoppers, where conventional retail channels tend to merchandise singular product lines with little communication of how or why to use it. Art supplies company Pebeo are starting to address this, by adding inspirational art pieces to their standard merchandising units. Sales Director, Ashley Burn, recognises that the consumer needs to be inspired, but admits that there is still a long way to go.

The lack of space makes it difficult, but projects and not tasks need to be conveyed to encourage the shopper, and especially with mixed media, the consumer almost needs a shopping list of the materials required and ‘how-to’ steps to use them.

The artist and fine art suppliers are making in-roads to help the shopper, by building in test areas and adding guidance on techniques to their communications. These were important drivers in Faber- Castell ‘s and Colart’s new point of sale solutions. This will definitely help to de- mystify some of the products, but the category as a whole can still be confusing and therefore difficult to navigate, leaving little opportunity to encourage impulse purchases or brand-switch.

The companies we talked to all agreed that more navigational sign posting, inspiring communications, and clear benefits for the user were still needed.

There was a lot of excitement throughout the halls with other new ranges on show. We were wowed with the liquid clay, which was being used to make fabulous pots and tea light holders without the need for firing. Whilst traditional craft items, such as modelling clays remain popular, with more methods for use being showcased and a number of brands in this area moving from educational supply into retail.

Impressed by the stunning pens on display from Schneider, Stylex and Pelikan, we finished our visit to Frankfurt in Paperworld, unable to choose our favourites from the many colourful, pattern adorned notebooks, writing pads and gift papers on show from Hahnemuhle and Moleskin.

In such a creative industry, the need to establish a sense of escape, inspiration, achievement and personalisation is essential. Frontline has been doing just this through design, developing and producing ideas that are innovative and inspire the shopper to engage with brands, for over 30 years. From insight and ideas, to implementation, we offer an integrated service for retail activations, including point of sale, shopper engagement, merchandising and display solutions, brand experience, shop -in-shop, exhibitions, and flag ship stores. Due to customer demand, we have recently introduced product and packaging designs to our extensive portfolio.