The pen just can't be written off. Branded fountain and ballpoint pens have no dearth of takers in India and sales are rising despite high prices and the growing use of computers, cell phones and the internet.
“The luxury pen segment in India is growing and a good brand or a designer pen is a latest must have. Consumers falling into the 51 years and above age bracket buy the highest number of such pens,” Nikhil Ranjan, CEO, William Penn, told IANS.
William Penn – The World Pen Store is India's only multi-brand retail store chain housing premium fine writing instruments manufactured the world over.
“Brand awareness of luxury pens is 88 percent,” Ranjan added.
According to a 2007 Technopak Advisors study, the Indian luxury pen market is gearing up for action. The total market spend on premium pens in India is Rs.479.3 crore (Rs. Rs.4.793 billion), with a category engagement of 79 percent.
High-end pens fall under different categories. The luxury pens cost anywhere between Rs.15,000 and Rs.40,000. Some limited edition pens cost up to Rs.1 crore (Rs.10 million).
The highest number of premium pens are purchased in south India — four times a year. In the north and the west, the frequency of purchase is about twice a year.
In recent years, several international luxury pen makers have come in to grab a share of the market, which is growing at nine percent annually.
Finest brands like Mont Blanc (Germany), S.T Dupont (France), Cross (USA), Sailor (Japan), Caran d'Ache (Switzerland), Conway Stewart (Britain) and Sheaffer (US) are now available in the country.
“India is the second fastest developing economy in the world after China. Plus, it has a promising luxury pen market thanks to the growing consumer base with disposable income and a strong aspiration for luxury brands,” said Dominique Lesueur, export director, S.T Dupont.
Echoing him, Chris Reed, sales manager, Sailor, told IANS: “We started our operations in India in April 2006 because we identified the market potential for top quality writing instruments in the country.”
So hasn't the growing use of digital media affected the sales of luxury pens?
“We have not seen any reduction in sales that could be specifically attributed to technology; rather, we have seen growth in many markets,” said Jasmine Jones, regional manager, Sheaffer.
Ranjan further added: “One can't do away with a pen. You will definitely put your signature when you sign a cheque, a contract, a merger. By far a luxury pen is one of the best gifts. Also luxury pens are a collectors item. They are a delight for pen connoisseurs.”