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North American Fp Sales Down In 2016

market

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11 replies to this topic

#1 pararis

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 03:41

"According to Euromonitor, North America was the one zone in which fountain pen sales shrank in 2016, down 3.5 percent year-over-year."

 

https://www.bloomber...ry-global-sales



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#2 Tancred

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 05:11

To put this in context, the good news is that fountain pen sales are still rising globally, especially in Asia and South America. The developing world has a taste for practical luxury, which is of course what a fountain pen offers.
The American decline in fountain pen sales has been going on for some years but it sadly reflects the fact that the US is excessively technophile in its culture and mentality. All the excitement is always for the latest Iphone rather than an obsolete instrument such as the fountain pen. And in terms of luxury the fountain pen is not sufficiently ostentatious to warrant the attention of the millionaire community, who would prefer to buy a Rolex or Omega watch. A Montblanc pen is now more likely to be bought as an addition to another item, e.g. a watch or briefcase, rather than on its own merit.
This makes fountain pen sales restricted to enthusiasts; much too small a market to ensure the survival of the pen shop as a viable business, witness the recent closure of stores such as Worldlux, Joon, Swisher and others which used to be at the forefront of the pen selling business in the USA.

Edited by Tancred, 03 February 2017 - 05:13.


#3 PAKMAN

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 21:28

Ha, I wish my purchases had shrunk in 2016!


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#4 virgilio

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 22:41

I wonder if this study includes fountain pen purchases on amazon, ebay and online in general, especially US purchases of new pens from China? That would be rather hard to monitor, wouldn't it? And I suspect that there have never been so many estadounidenses buying their pens from China (and abroad) as now... My last dozen or so purchases of new pens were all either from amazon, mainly from China (Hero 616s mainly, 60 of them), or from officesupply.com (Manuscript Dodecs, 42 of them)...

#5 Tancred

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Posted 04 February 2017 - 03:56

I assume this is based on market research, so it should include everything. What I would say is that the availability of cheap Chinese FPs has lowered the overall market value even if perhaps unit sales have held up.

#6 Parker51

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Posted 04 February 2017 - 04:20

Having completed market research in the past, I would not assume that new modalities in regard to sales will have been counted. This would mean pens by independent manufacturers such as those made by Pen Turners would not count. Also, the sales figures likely did not include the sale of Vintage Pens.

Edited by Parker51, 04 February 2017 - 04:20.


#7 Jerome Tarshis

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Posted 04 February 2017 - 11:14

I don't know any reason to believe that fountain pen sales in the United States or anywhere else are mostly to enthusiasts. Except for people I've met at pen shows or at Pen Posse lunches, pretty much everybody I meet who writes with a fountain pen is *not* an enthusiast.

 

If you read the fountain pen reviews on Amazon, you will find that the vast majority of reviewers say nothing about themselves that tells us they are pen crazies. And say quite a lot that suggests that they aren't. FPN itself attracts new members who have been using fountain pens for years without having being aware of "the hobby."



#8 ParkerDuofold

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Posted 04 February 2017 - 16:28

I think you're right. I went to elementary school between 1973 and 1979 and as far back as then, they were already playing down penmanship.

They still taught it, but I only had one teacher that ever "enforced" it or graded me on it; the rest of them didn't care what your penmanship looked like. Pity. :(

There's also the simple reality that in our lazy, immediate gratification, push button culture, any writing tool that requires the least amount of effort, i.e., occasional cleaning, is NOT going to be popular.

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#9 Tancred

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Posted 05 February 2017 - 05:46

@ParkerDuofold

I am completely with you on this. My experience is a little different as I went to school in the UK and my primary (elementary) school obliged the pupils to use fountain pens; in fact not only fountain pens but italic nibbed ones. This was back in the 1970s. Once at secondary (high) scho this all changed and the norm became ballpoints or the new things, rollerballs. Nevertheless I still used my trusty Sheaffer 'No Nonsense' fountain pen more often than not.
We do live in a 'push button' world, but I also believe that many people also get tired of novelties and revert back to the tried and tested tools of old. The revival of the fountain pen in many countries is evidence of this. The USA unfortunately tends to have a 'convenience' culture that values practicality above all else.

@Parker51

Vintage pens are not relevant in this assessment - this is about new pens, not used ones. Custom made pens are a tiny proportion of the overall market.

@Jerome Tarshis

It all depends on what you mean by 'enthusiast'. The very fact that you are using an obsolete object to some extent makes you an enthusiast by definition, I would argue. Either that or an eccentric. However I agree with your point about Amazon reviews; there are many who buy fountain pens out of sheer curiosity or in order to make a statement of some kind. But not all of these will persevere. Likewise many buy mechanical watches in order to appear sophisticated but then get frustrated with the lower accuracy compared to cheap quartz watches. It's all about expectations in an age where we are encouraged to love accuracy and perfection in everything. Personally I love the artistry and individuality of fountain pen writing, just as I admire the engineering skill needed to construct a complex machine such as a mechanical watch. I don't find any excitement in computer chips designed to produce perfectly accurate watches or printed papers in hundreds of different fonts of various sizes. Digital technology has removed the humanity of every day activities and reduced them to robotic and flawless actions. I regret this, but I also know that most people welcome it.
Fountain pen lovers will always remain a minority, and a small one at that. I have no problem with this.

#10 Parker51

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Posted 05 February 2017 - 06:38

Actually the headline is "North American FP sales are down 2016", not "the sales of newly manufactured Fountain Pens by traditional retailers in North America are down 2016", which would be more accurate.
I maintain that the sale of fountain pens made by hobbyists using non traditional means in North America is a significant market segment which is missed. Pen turners largely do not make custom pens on order, though some do. They make pens, inluding Fountain Pens that are sold at craft shows, craft malls, online, and local specialty stores. Think about all the businesses in North America that thrive providing them with parts and materials. They have there own Magazine even.
Also the sale of vintage pens is also largely overlooked and one simply needs to do a search of EBay to see the rather noticeable volume a Vintage sales. Plus the sale of vintage Fountain Pens through Web based retailers, Etsy, Facebook and even Amazon.
Another missed market segment are the Pen Shows throughout North America.
Traditional retailors of all types, selling all manner of products in North America are having decreased sales.
I recall when Department Stores in North America sold Pens. They no longer do.
Brick and Morter pen stores are in decline in raw numbers, including in New York City, one of the largest retail markets in North America. Across the North American Continent, Stationary and Gift stores, Office Supply stores and Pharmacies which once sold Fountain Pens have closed, which means sales through those retail channels have ended.
All of this needs to be taken into consideration.
So, given the many different ways to purchase pens in North America, with fewer and fewer of them being traditional merchants and given that the product mix includes new Fountain Pens, vintage Fountain Pens and new Fountain Pens not made by major manufacturers/ marketers, is the statement that Fountain Pen sales are down in North America to be seen as an accurate statement, or possibly could it not be that the old way of measuring sales is inaccurate and has less meaning than it once had when the market was less complicated?

Edited by Parker51, 05 February 2017 - 06:42.


#11 Tancred

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Posted 05 February 2017 - 21:58

@Parker51

I pretty much agree with you but I'm not sure how these sales figures have been calculated. They may include craft pens - I don't know. The key point though, is that pens as a whole are declining in America - ballpoints and rollers much more so than fountain pens. We are now in a digital age - pens and papers are just not needed any more, so these items need to reinvent themselves as luxury items. This is the key message from the Bloomberg article.

#12 MrsGouletPens

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Posted 21 February 2017 - 05:38

Hmmmm.... our sales were up YOY in 2016?  :huh:

I wonder how they calculated it.


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