While some of the initial questions and observations that Uncial brought reflect what's happening in the market, your postulations and hypothesis might be a little narrow. The crux to understanding where the market is going lies in whether the fountain pen is going to be a product with mass adoption, or a product that only has niche appeal.
Unfortunately we all know the mass adoption of the fountain pen as a tool of knowledge sharing has long past. So it is a product that is relegated to having a niche appeal. When a product has mass adoption and appeal, what the market can bear are products across a wide range of price points. IE from cheap $1 pens all the way to the Rolls Royce of fountain pens. The key here is the hidden cost of upfront R&D goes into each pen. If your pen is $1, it does not mean it will not write, have poor built tolerance, leak or is simply a piece of garbage. A $1 pen has it's purpose and function as would a $1000 pen. As others have pointed out, you will not give a $1 pen to a graduate to commemorate an important moment in their lives as you would to a business associate to celebrate a winning deal. Unfortunately because much of American, and China, which are the 2 largest global economies, no longer use fountain pens, there are very little pen manufacturers willing to invest in research, design and tooling for any pen that is cheaper, produced in large quantities and imparts a great writing experience. Which means that most of the pens you see in the market are largely hand made in very small quantities, which necessitates very high prices. For SOME companies like the one that uses a snow peak, their marketing prowess, together with savvy knowledge of their consumers give them the license to do what they are doing today. Pounding out limited editions every year to feed a very small market, primarily as a loss leader to tie back to their heritage. Informally, we know that their cash cow are watches, fragrance and leather. While others like the small Italian pen makers, they are not doing it because they have the savviness of said previous company. They are riding on their coat tails but REALLY, they are all very small houses of under 10 people, all hand making small batches of fountain pens. We know HOW Europeans pay their employees REALLY well:) Which again necessitates high prices.
Lets get back to the Italians. Many aren't in the market to be in the luxury segment. Some, like Montegrappa are continuing a family business and legacy. Others like Dante Del Vecchio are in the business because they are truly passionate about the product. But all of them have something in common. They understand the product they are making will need to be marketed and sold in a different way than 20, 30, 40, or even 50 years ago. IE lots of new products in very small batches. Or what we see as a constant stream of seeming limited editions.
Now WE as consumers have to be equally responsible as well. We invariably vote with our spending power too. We buy into the marketing hype of said Snowpeak company. Many of us salivate every year for the never ending stream of new product they put out. But yet why is there little support for a company like GVFC? They are truly a company that's not focused on luxury. Their aim is to make the best product out there to enable creativity. If you look at their pen line, they have the super cheap Ink, and Loom all the way up to their $4500 pen of the years. Their products are VERY well designed, very unique, and all work flawlessly out of the box. ALL qualities that are so important in creating a superior functional and beautiful product. Why aren't we clamoring for more GVFC pens, and not supporting the other more "evil" companies???
The interesting thing about fountain pens is that there IS a bubble where fountain pens, writing and paper still is part of daily business. It's Japan. If you visit Japan, you can as easily get a disposable fountain pen as you would a $1000 gift fountain pen at any decent department or retail store. In Japan, all our theories are sort of a moot point, because there is a consistent stream of very innovative stationary products coming out of all the makers every year. Itoya themselves just introduced a very inexpensive pen, Itoya Blade. At the same time, they also have their super high end Romeo brand fountain pens.
What are are experiencing today is the democratization of choice. What we are seeing in the fountain pen world, you can also see a similar thing happening in many other products. Another example are photographers into film photography. Many professionals would NEVER use film for their pro work. But in their leisure creative sessions, they all love film and the "slow" nature of shooting with film. When it comes to knowledge sharing, unfortunately we favor a tool that is now used as a "leisure" tool, primarily purchased to enjoy and keep. Not to conduct business or to work with. At least we still have options available!
Edited by gerigo, 30 May 2017 - 22:04.