A few weeks ago, my wife, daughter and I made our annual pilgrimage to Staples to buy back-to-school supplies. This is always an arduous affair that lasts perhaps two hours. Needless to say, I had plenty of time to explore Staples and learn about the new trends in everything and anything office related.
I observed two things that I found noteworthy while wandering the isles. First, I was blown away by the Sharpie Pen display. Sharpies are awesome. Staples had Sharpies of every color imaginable. I showed a great deal of restraint and did not purchase any, despite temptation.
Second, I came across a huge display of Martha Stewart calendars, planners, organizers and assorted accessories.
Upon viewing the Martha Stewart Home Office display I asked myself: “Who would buy this stuff?” That was really the extent of my engagement with the products. Then I moved on to more important things like Batman iPod cases! (Yes, they have those and I want one.)
Fast forward three weeks. Last week I attended a meeting in the Boston area where the attendees were predominantly female healthcare marketing executives. All together, it was perhaps a group of 20 people. As we were chatting before the meeting started, I noticed that the woman sitting next to me (my friend Deb) was using one of these Martha Stewart planners. She had the Robin’s Egg Blue or Tiffany Blue version – I honestly don’t know what they call that color. I started teasing her about the Martha Stewart planner and told her that I had been wondering who buys those things, when three other women in the group mentioned that they also had products from the Martha Stewart Home Office Collection! Three of them actually pulled them out of their briefcases. They were all the same Tiffany blue.
Here’s a photo of Vanessa, Deb and Kelly proudly displaying their Martha Stewart acquisitions. Note how they are all smiling. Clearly, Martha makes them happy. So I got the answer to the question I had posed three weeks earlier: Who buys this stuff? The answer: Lots of people including a number of professional women whom I respect a great deal. This is coming from the guy who, despite maintaining an electronic calendar, still buys the same old black AT-A-GLANCE professional appointment book each year. I’ve probably been doing this for 20 years. I guess it is cool that Martha is infusing some style and fashion into office supplies. We use these things every day, so why should they be boring. Today they can be an expression of our personal brands much like our choice of car or coffee shop (Starbucks, Caribou, Dunkin). Chalk one up for Martha!