Here is a question that has absorbed many hours of my time since I started the quest of establishing M&G stationery here in the UK, How do folk choose a pen or pencil from the plethora of brands and types available?
Our journey with M&G Stationery started by selling pens. Anyone who has sold pens will know that there are lots to choose from, like lots and lots. Apart from the basics: ball, gel, roller, fountain, fibre tip; there are also different tip sizes and of course, stick style or retractable. Now that’s one heck of a lot of choice already but then we add the established premium brands: Papermate including Berol, BIC, Pilot, Uniball, Stedtler, Faber-Castelle, Pentel, Parker, Schneifer; and maybe others I haven’t thought of here. Next in the list are the mid-brands and there are lots here too add in the big wholesale sheds’ own brands – Q Connect; 5 Star, Staples own etc and finally the budget ’50 for £1.00′ type pen (personal view – I tried years ago – don’t waste the £1.00!). Where do we start when making a choice?
When we started out with the M&G project many said we were mad: “yet another pen brand”, “they are ‘me-to'” etc. Well are these two labels fair?
First, given that M&G last year reported global sales figures that put them just behind BIC and Papermate (Sandford Group to be precise) can they just be ‘yet another pen brand’? 2014 – $755m turnover and market value of $3bn! Behind this is the phenomenal rate of growth. Who else in this industry has had 20%+ growth year on year for more than 5 years? Evidently there is something unusual about M&G.
Two things, the first of which answers the second charge: “me-to”. The list of established premium street brands in the UK who have bought M&G designed pens and had them own branded is quite astonishing. I never forget my first visit the the M&G head office in Shanghai. There in the show room was a cabinet that contained many brands I knew from the shelves of WH Smith in this country! “Why are these here?” I asked, “Because we made them” came the answer. Amongst this group were Miffy pens. Anyone with a child who is mad keen on the little Rabbit will know Miffy and yes, M&G make them too!
The second fact is that M&G do more than just writing instruments. Their show room in Shanghai had everything: files, folders, note books, staplers, hole punches, pencil sharpeners, sticky notes etc: all M&G branded. Just recently they bought a new file/folder manufacturing facility so I expect this range to develop further.
Hmm, Haven’t really answered the question, how we choose a pen. I suppose the answer is simple: it depends on what it is to be used for, how it writes, how long it lasts, its appearance, how the writing experience feels and what it costs. The great thing is that M&G offer something for everyone with hundreds of designs but at prices which many find quite acceptable. So give them a go. We supply to all levels in the supply chain so feel free to drop us a line.