If there is one store that I feel increasingly irritated by it’s Paperchase. The Paperchase marketing department has, at some point, latched onto (and I’m guessing here) the fact that almost all stationery items are bought by women. I say women, the actual target market seems to have been pinpointed exclusively at pre-teen girls.
It appears it’s not enough to ‘feminise’ the product range, but what the targeted consumer supposedly needs is an uncompromising deluge of flowers, butterflies, cutesy illustrations of gooey-eyed animals, fluffy pink birds and more flowers. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these, and it’s not that it’s been decided those things are ‘girly’, and that girly things are less worthy of our respect. It’s just that a retail company, selling supposedly generic stationery items, is seemingly oblivious to the idea that there are some middle-aged blokes who also quite like a nice notebook. Just not a pink one with a picture of kittens on the front.
I love paper, notebooks, markers, pens and all that stuff as much as the next graphic designer, but I feel excluded and a bit self-conscious when I pay an increasingly rare visit to a Paperchase, I feel like I’ve wandered into My Little Pony’s nursery school.
What I’m most miffed by, is that the design of the product range is so one-dimensional and is so set in the ‘it’s girly or nothing’ mindset, that it’s completely off-putting. It would be fine if it was just a fixed number of items in a kind of sub-branded way, but it’s not. The feckin’ flowers are everywhere.