Have a thought in mind, pen it down. Want to achieve something, map it out. Want to fill in colors, craft it out. This is how the pencils, colors, sharpeners, and erasers have been utilized for all these years.

But when was the last time you used a pencil, pen or an eraser? Moreover, in the present scenario of digitization, need for a pen to pen down something has lessened? For legacy stationary brands, such as Camlin, Solo Files, Navneet and Hindustan pencils, launching innovative products is a continuous process that begins with an in-depth understanding of consumer needs and changes in the market-place. Earlier, the student’s category dominated the stationery industry but, these companies are now adding new products to their previous range, which include premium gifting and office stationery. This market, which is a close to INR 20,000 crore industry and growing at a CAGR of 15 percent plus, is highly competitive in nature and dominated by a few leading players.

Banking on Nostalgia

During school days, it is a matter of pride to own a set of colorful and fashionable stationery. Moreover, kids are prone to buying and losing stationery on a daily basis. So, school stationery has always grabbed more attention and has been more widely accessible amongst the lot.

According to Sardul Khan, Partner, Ernest & Young (India), churns out 20 to 25 crore students every year, therefore the student stationery segment is bound to show a boost and grow stronger in years to come.

Echoing similar views, Saumitra Prasad, Chief Marketing Officer, Kokuyo Camlin says, “We have all grown up using Camlin Flora Pencil in our school days and those carry oodles of nostalgia for each one of us.”

The legacy stationery brand, Camlin, which have entered into a joint venture with Japanese Stationery giant, Kokuyo, has recently re-launched Camlin Flora Classic in the original design to ignite such emotions. Also, Indians do not generally adapt to any newer innovations in the first go. Stationery is one sector where people are still happy with conventional designs and price point. At the same time, earlier when there were few players, one could foray into multiple segments so that anything one would launch, they would have immediate buyers.

But today, with multiple players, stationeries are being launched from a customer’s point of view. Amit Gupta, Managing Director, SOLO, says, “In addition to our present range, we have been playing a lot of color schemes to keep the buyers attracted towards our products.”

The brand, launched in 1958, has always focused on manufacturing affordable and good quality school and office stationery for all age group.

As a strategy, Camlin, which dominated the market for ages, is trying to introduce the product which will make learning fun for children. “We have been continuously innovating to develop products which meet the unmet needs of today’s school children. To illustrate it, we developed a product called brush pen which has four components in one single product,” says Prasad.

Pointing out another aspect of the business, the experts opine that Indian buyers are price sensitive but are ready to spend more if dependable products are offered. “Instead of going wide, they have to go deep. Therefore, the traditional players need to see what they specialize in and should go deep into it. Their supply chains, products, manufacturing, etc. needs to revolve around their specializations only, rather than going widespread,” Khan adds.

Though competition drives the market crazy for new products, it has its positive side too, as this way the consumer can get the best product he wishes for, in different price ranges. Navneet Publications, which is a major leader in West India, has introduced a range of professionals and college students that includes highlighters, whiteboard markers, and permanent markers. Navneet’s pillar is its quality products, excellent distribution channel, innovative cover design, product information transparency, and availability.