“The pen is the tongue of the mind”, said Cervantes. In Covid-19 times, many a mind has turned towards the fountain pen, increasing demand for the old writing instrument.
Retailers have reported an unexpected increase in demand for fountain pens over the last six months, especially in the luxury segment. Two factors have driven demand. The first is that hobbyists have resurrected their passion for calligraphy. The second factor is that the need for digital detox has led people to pick up pens.
According to L Subramaniam, Founder of ASA Pens that makes handmade pens, during the lockdown people were home-bound and they sought to revive old passions, especially writing, art, craft and calligraphy.
“We usually receive around 200 orders a month from Indian customers. However, this increased to over 300 between April and September,” he said.
No to Chinese models
Interestingly, there was a dip in international orders. Many Indians, who used to buy international brands, eschewed Chinese models and sought out locally made pens. Depending upon the level of customisation, ASA sells fountain pens ranging from ₹1,000 to ₹30,000 in the luxury segment.
Penmakers also turned to social media to talk about their pens, more than usual, and this too was a reason for increase in demand, said Subramaniam.
According to Nikhil Ranjan, Founder & Managing Director of William Penn, people were seen upgrading their pens as being at home gave them more time to experience the pleasure of writing with pen and ink on paper. Gifting, of course, continues in the luxury end of the market and that is also driving sales.
For William Penn, the proportion of fountain pens to overall pen sales has gone up from 20 per cent to 40 per cent. It only retails pens that are priced over ₹1,000 and plays in the premium and luxury segment. First-time users are buying at the lower end of the price spectrum, he said. Another reason for an uptick in physical writing is that people are trying to balance the use of digital devices with analog products. The premium writing instrument market is estimated at around ₹300 crore (7-8 per cent of the total writing instrument industry), added Ranjan.
Demand for accessories
Aditya Bhansali, Founder, ThePenWorld.com, said there has been an increase in demand for not just fountain pens but also allied accessories like notebooks and fountain pen inks. The overall demand has increased by 30-50 per cent.
The company sells pens with prices ranging between ₹350 and ₹30,000. Most of the orders are above ₹1,000 category, he said.
PenWorld.com specialises in fountain pens and sells 20 brands of which seven are Indian and the rest international, he added.