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Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Future of Smilers - Your Feedback for Royal Mail and Business Sheet Producers

A new sheet from Benham Covers has been announced celebrating the 175th Anniversary of Great Western Railway. Surprisingly, at least for me, the number of sheets printed was 1000. The appeal of these sheets must be based on thematic interest and may explain why Benham and others continue to focus on trains, boats and planes.

This sheet bucks the trend of lower production runs of c. 300-500 sheets, seen in recent months. I am not surprised by this trend as interest in the sheets seems to be down as producers ignore the basic rules of supply and demand - producing more and more sheets does not necessarily mean people will buy more and more. It is a well known principle of consumer marketing that people tend to become more selective when given more choice. In my view we are perhaps seeing a re-positioning of the Smilers sheet market from one with broad appeal to one where collectors are selective about what they collect. As a result, the hardened Smilers sheet collectors will loose interest and probably focus on other less expensive areas of collecting (perhaps commemorative machine labels - whatever next!) and as a consequence demand for these products will continue to decline effectively killing off the goose that laid the golden egg.
Sheet producers take note - be more creative and innovative with your products - if you want your business to survive. Planes, boats and trains are no doubt interesting if you like that sort of thing but what about the rest of us? Bradbury has focused on the History of Britain but will one day run out of kings and queens and although very well designed the sheets are very "samey". The brightest star on the horizon this year for me was Phil Stamps but Steve has just announced he is shutting up shop at the end of the year so we will be deprived of a potentially interesting source of these sheets. I am not advocating radical change just a modicum of creativity to match the producers desire for profit. What about a circular label design, a horizontal format self adhesive business sheet, some sporting events covered - the possibilities are endless unlike the mindless pursuit of thematic and historical topics.