In fact, pen manufacturers remain bullish on writing their growth story and are betting on increasing literacy in a developing country like India.
A recent study by Euromonitor International showed writing instruments registered “current retail value growth of 12 per cent in 2016” to reach Rs 4,100 crore ($616 million). Pens, which remain the largest category within the industry, accounted for 67 per cent of retail value sales in 2016.
“In the last few years, the keyboard, keypad, touch screen have become the preferred writing instruments for students and professionals. Are they replacing the traditional pen and pencils? The answer is no. At least in the next 20 years, I do not think there will be any threat from increasing digitisation,” says Linc Pen and Plastics MD and CEO Deepak Jalan.
“In volume terms, the market grew about 6-7 per cent last year and a similar trend is also expected in the current year. In value terms, at least a 10 percent growth in writing instruments is expected in 2017,” he said, adding that the growing literate population will lead to higher consumption of pens and pencils.
In the 2011 census, India’s literacy rate was put at 74.04 percent, up by about 8.66 per cent from the previous census. Compared to the adult literacy rate, the youth literacy rate was about nine per cent higher.
Echoing Jalan was Shreyansh Kocheri, an analyst with the research firm Euromonitor International, said electronic devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and portable computers, did not impact sales of writing instruments in 2016.
“There are, however, an increasing number of government programmes that provide public school students with free school materials, including notebooks, pens, and pencils, among other items, which limit overall sales of such products in retail channels,” he said.
Apart from the daily needs, the psychology of attaching greater value to the written material is still driving growth for the industry.
“More and more digitisation is happening, but people are still appreciating the benefits of writing by using pen or pencil on paper. Just as using electronic devices for writing emails, Whatsapp and SMSes, a lot of people are valuing the written words, realising that notes in black and white create a lot more impact,” says William Penn’s CEO Nikhil Ranjan.
There is enough research and it has been proved that people remember hand written words and notes more vividly, he added.