Yash Bhatia

Pilot Pen kicks off solo India trip after ending 40-year collab with Luxor

The new entity plans to position itself as a premium function brand and will invest 12- 13% of its budget on marketing and is looking to launch 100 SKUs.

After ending its four-decade-long collaboration with Luxor last month, Pilot is all set to enter the Indian premium pen market as an individual entity.

Pilot Corporation forayed into the Indian market in the 1950s with its fountain pens. In 1984, the company partnered with the Indian writing instruments brand Luxor. Pilot became a renowned name in the pen industry, it is a subsidiary of Pilot Corporation Japan.

The company plans to invest Rs 70 crore on setting up manufacturing units in the country and will be launching 100 SKUs. The brand is positioning itself in the premium function range, which starts from Rs 50-100.

GP Srivastava, VP - sales & marketing at Pilot Pen India (PPIN), says, “Six months back, we established our factory. Before that, we created our inventory, distribution and entire sales all over the country.”

“Over the next two years, we’re planning to partner with two lakh retail outlets from the current 60,000. From our earlier focus on metros/Tier-I cities, we will now also penetrate Tier-II towns. The focus is to reach every level and create a mass distribution.”

The company has allocated 12-13% of its budget towards marketing.

“In the first year, we’re betting on print media, followed by social and digital media. The new entity will be communicated through print ads,” Srivastava highlights.

The communication will focus on urging customers to write more with a pen.

The target audience that the brand is looking to tap into, includes working people and school students. It is looking to resonate with younger audiences. 

Srivastava adds, “We’ve hired an agency that will do activations in around 1,000 schools across the country. We’re looking to target Gen Z through social media. There is brand loyalty associated with us. We are also planning to launch new products for the new generation.”

The message to school students will be that Pilot Pens will give you the feel of a fountain pen.

“Frixion is one of our global products. In Pilot Corporation Japan the product is contributing the highest turnover, and the company is looking to focus on the same product in India,” he states.

Nowadays, mobile phones and laptops have replaced pen and paper in offices. Also, paperless work acts as a plus point for sustainability as well. Srivastava claims, “The writing behaviour is not going to change. Despite digitisation, the overall usage of pens in the country will remain the same. Pen sales have not gone down. The category that we’re catering to is witnessing the highest growth.”

“Pens in the Rs 5-10 range, are witnessing single-digit growth of around 5-6%, whereas in our category, the growth rate is 30%. We’re the leader. We’re looking to tap into this growth by launching new SKUs, enhancing the distribution model, hence, multiplying the sales by three times.”   

Road ahead 

The brand has recorded 30% y-o-y growth, discounting the COVID period. According to the company, the market size of premium function pen range is Rs 500 crore (approx). Pilot is looking to tap into the Rs 100 crore range. 

“The eastern part of India will be driving the most sales. The sales in North, South and West India will be as per expectations,” reveals Srivastava.

The USP of its products is technology, and the brand is continuously innovating new products. 

“Our competitors are not trying out new technologies. Our partners are now collaborating with brands to launch similar kinds of pens,” states Srivastava.

The brand considers only Uniball, another Japanese company, as its competitor in India. 

Although the brand is relying more on general trade, it is also looking to associate with e-commerce players.

“80% of our revenues will come from distributors and the remaining 20% from e-commerce players,” mentions Srivastava.

The company is looking to get 50-60% of its revenue from the refill ink business.

Hiroki Kisaichi, MD, PPIN, highlights, “India is a price competitive market. Also, people in the country are looking to refill their pens.”

Individual entity

What made the company part ways with Luxor?

Srivastava shares, “Over the last 40 years, we learnt a lot of things by partnering with Luxor. The problem is that Luxor is also selling its own pens, which led to conflict sometimes.”

“The earlier products from our portfolio were not promoted the way they should have been promoted. We decided to enter India as an individual entity so that we have full control over advertising, inventory, distribution and sales model.”

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