Gen Z Love Their Stationery

In an age dominated by digital screens and virtual interactions, Gen Z is staging a rebellion against digital and returning to the tactile pleasures of pen and paper.

Gen Z (or Generation Z) refers to those born roughly between the mid-1990s and the early 2010s. And although the media would have you believe that Gen Z spend all their time on their phones, that is not quite correct. For this cohort is forging a unique relationship with stationery, demonstrating an unprecedented obsession that is reshaping consumer trends and social media landscapes.

The surge of interest in stationery among Gen Z is palpable, with platforms like TikTok serving as an outlet for this newfound obsession. The hashtags #stationery, #stationeryaddict, #stationerylover and #stationeryhaul have over 1 million posts and counting. It’s not unusual for the most popular #stationeryhauls posts to amass over 2 million views.

Through these digital channels, young people are unboxing their latest stationery acquisitions, sharing tips on organisation, uploading tutorials on brush lettering, bullet journalling, calligraphy and reviewing stationery.

So, what’s driving this fascination with stationery among Gen Z? Despite growing up in a digitally saturated world, many members of Gen Z find solace and satisfaction in the simplicity of pen and paper. Stationery provides a tangible escape from the relentless notifications, algorithms, and virtual noise that characterises modern life.

Pens, pencils and highlighters are particularly popular with Gen Z; with their low price point, they are an affordable purchase for young people.

StationeryNews spoke to Rebecca B., a typical 13-year-old who was very excited to show us her highlighter collection. “I have two pencil cases, one for my pens, pencils, erasers, rulers and other stuff and then…” she opens up a large pencil case, “this one is just for my highlighters.” She proudly shows a pencil case with her highlighters all organised in shades of colours.

Above: Rebecca likes her school books to look aesthetic.
Above: Rebecca likes her school books to look aesthetic.

When asked why she has so many, Rebecca explains, “They are all different. I have different colours – I only like pastels. Some people like the bright colours, but that’s not my aesthetic. They have different sized tips so I use some for highlighting in my books, but others I use for writing. When I take out my pencil case at school, all my friends ask if they can use them. Even the boys.”

Like most 13-year-olds, Rebecca spends a lot of time on TikTok. She likes watching unboxing videos (“That’s where I get ideas of what I want to order.”), as well as tutorials on brush lettering and drawing. “I get most of my ideas from videos on TikTok of YouTube. I want my books to look beautiful and different to everyone else’s. So I do different heading styles. It’s my thing. I use different colour palettes for different subjects. I have clear plastic pockets for each of my subjects, and each one has a different colour. It is so aesthetic.”

As someone who’s always appreciated the art of organisation and creativity, Stabilo’s UK marketing manager, Vanya Hunter can relate to the attraction of a fresh pack of colourful highlighters. “They’re not just tools for marking pages or notes; they’re expressions of personality and individuality,” she says.

“What’s particularly intriguing is how Gen Z has elevated stationery from mere tools to coveted accessories. It’s not just about functionality; it’s about creating a visually pleasing workspace and adding a touch of personality to everyday tasks.

Above: Stabilo’s NatureCOLOR collection has been a hit with Gen Z.
Above: Stabilo’s NatureCOLOR collection has been a hit with Gen Z.

“Stabilo’s newest NatureCOLOR collection has gained significant popularity, with sales steadily rising each week. Gen Z individuals prioritise their aesthetic preferences, and the NatureCOLOR range aligns perfectly with their tastes. Released during autumn, these complement the Gen Z natural pantone colour palette. With the arrival of spring, sales of pastel stationery including the BOSS ORIGINAL pastel and the Stabilo swing cool pastel grow as they add a warm touch to pages, perfectly capturing the essence of the season’s aesthetic,” says Vanya.

Gen Z customers are an important audience for luxury stationery brand, Papier, making up close to 25% of Papier’s customer base. “Our Gen Z audience is our fastest growing age group,” says Taymoor Atighetchi, founder and ceo of Papier. “It’s grown from 10% in 2021 since we launched our academic planner.”

Last year, Papier saw a 10% YOY increase in orders for its now cult academic planners and notebooks. “The layouts with space for timetables and deadline organisation appeal to those starting sixth form and university, and the bright and bold designs and personalisation options allow for individuals to stand out in lectures and classes,” says Taymoor. “They were the third bestselling product for the brand across our stationery categories in 2023.”

Above: Papier’s planners complement digital tools and are popular with Gen Z.
Above: Papier’s planners complement digital tools and are popular with Gen Z.

Papier has grown awareness with this audience through a robust influencer marketing strategy, including launching its creator-in-residence programme. In this programme, a Gen-Z influencer works with the brand to create content and assets to support campaigns and ensure relevance and relatability.

Likewise, with Stabilo, social media content is key to reaching Gen Z. “With Gen Z absorbing their news and finding inspiration primarily via social media, collaborating with influencers is a key element of our strategy, as it provides us with the ability to consistently connect with our target audience,” says Vanya. “By leveraging their platforms and authentic credibility, we are ensuring our vision resonates with this demographic: enabling us to foster genuine engagement and trust amongst our followers.”

The stationery craze among Gen Z is not merely a fleeting trend but is one that is here to stay. Brands and retailers are taking notice, capitalising on this growing market by offering an array of innovative and aesthetically pleasing stationery products tailored to the preferences of this generation.


Top: Rebecca B. with a small portion of her highlighter stash.

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