Spielwarenmesse: Interview with Staedtler: Insights-X offers the ideal platform for the stationery industry

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Schreibwaren Staedtler Interview
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Movers & shakers

Interview with Staedtler: Insights-X offers the ideal platform for the stationery industry

from Ulrich Texter

The stationery industry is back on track. After years of declining sales, some brands have once again achieved significant growth in sales. Multi-channel offerings and new presentation platforms such as the Insights-X stationery fair are intended to ensure stability once more. We spoke to Axel Marx, CEO of Staedtler Mars GmbH & Co. KG.

Mr Marx, will you reveal to us whether Staedtler was likewise able to achieve an increase of 6% in 2014? That's supposed to have been the average growth rate of all branded companies in the stationery sector!

Axel Marx
: In Germany, STAEDTLER managed to achieve an increase of about 7%, globally it was – currency-adjusted – almost 5%.

And what division proved to be a growth driver? You have FIMO, since 2013 Premium, coloured and normal graphite pencils, ink pens, digital writing – you could almost lose track of them all.

A. M.:
FIMO kids, our oven-hardening modelling clay specifically for children exceeded all our expectations already in 2014 and was enthusiastically received by retailers and consumers alike. The product line was expanded this year to include new and attractive sets. With our Premium collections, STAEDTLER launched writing instruments made from the finest materials onto the market two years ago. Since their launch, 97 retailers throughout Germany have now been stocking the superior products. We are very proud that our Premium range has been so well received in the last two years and we will continue to support our retailers to ensure the success of our product over the long term.

Can you also tell us why pens of all things boomed in 2014, whereas the digitisation should have meant a lot of trouble for the industry?

A. M.:
Even in the digital age of smartphones and tablets, something that's been written by hand is still something very special. A handwritten card or letter on special occasions expresses appreciation. Handwriting as an expression of personal creativity is, fortunately, still an important aspect in society, and the disproportionate demand for writing instruments makes this very clear.

Even drawing and painting supplies closed 3.4 per cent up. Does the sector benefit from DIY and the Express Yourself trend?

A. M.:
Creativity is something that's very important for children, regardless of whether they're drawing or painting a picture with coloured pencils or paints or, for example, making their own toys with modelling clay. With the FIMO kids create&play Birthday Box, STAEDTLER has launched a creative set onto the market that combines painting, modelling and play.

A company like yours faces many challenges. There are fewer and fewer children and hence pupils; secondly, the number of stationery stores is waning – a fate you share with the toy industry. How are you facing up to the challenges?

A. M.:
STAEDTLER's product range is broad; we've recognized the trend of the times and have been able to explore new product fields with our stylus pens and our new Premium range. Online businesses are in competition with high-street stationery shops and are now a well-established distribution channel. Nevertheless, brick-and-mortar retail has a fighting chance if it provides the customer with appropriate incentives. Thoughtful and professional product presentation is highly crucial to help customers decide whether or not to make a purchase, for example. STAEDTLER supports this goal at the POS with our new brand shop, developed and designed according to the latest criteria of top-selling product placement.
 
And you can easily cope with the trend towards digitisation?

A. M.:
Tablets and smartphones are essential in today's world. For making quick notes or spontaneously capturing ideas, however, the pencil is still popular. Our stylus pens allow us to bridge the gap between the analogue and the digital world: the pencil tip writes on paper as usual, while the stylus tip, made of conductive material at the end of the pencil, allows digital sketches and visualizations to be drawn on the tablet.

We will soon have a premiere in Nuremberg. What can the stationery expo Insights-X achieve?

A. M.:
Insights-X is the ideal platform for a wide range of products. We liked the concept of providing the latest information on new products and trends for the coming season. The new trade fair offers a varied programme and experiences and participation will be key components. Both the date and place offer us, as stationery manufacturers, new design possibilities.

Is it true that the early autumn date in particular offers a great advantage, because it allows manufacturers to provide a glimpse of the new items that will launched in the following year?

A. M.:
The month of October is an ideal time to introduce new product and marketing concepts. Most purchasing decisions are made in the autumn for the following year; this is what key buyers have confirmed again and again in the context of the most recent annual talks.

In 2007, the Spielwarenmesse addressed the topic of school entry product ranges in a special show. What role does the toy trade play for Staedtler?

A. M.
: As a manufacturer of products for kindergarten and school supplies – such as our FIMO modelling, coloured pencils, erasers, pencil sharpeners or finger paints – toy shops have always been important to us. STAEDTLER products are listed by all relevant toy retailers, both in the brick-and-mortar shops and online.

You've been setting the tone in recent years with digital pens, new materials such as Wopex or goods intended to appeal to younger target groups, such as FIMO KIDS. What do you see as the biggest challenges in the near future so that you can pave the way for another 180 years?

A. M.:
Identifying challenges for the next 10 years is already hard enough; doing this for another 180 years ahead is something I wouldn't want to take upon myself. Even with increasing digitisation, writing and painting by hand will not lose their importance. Children in particular love drawing and painting and will continue to do so with as much passion as before. Unique surface coatings such as our ergosoft pens or our Noris coloured pencils made of the innovative Wopex material promote the haptic perception. In addition, drawing trains the child's fine motor skills as well as, incidentally, their ability to concentrate, their creativity and imagination. These are all factors that are highly relevant to personal development and they won't become less important in the digital age either. STAEDTLER will therefore also know in the future how to win over customers with innovative and high quality products.


Staedtler and other companies of the stationery industry you can meet from 08 - 11 October 2015 at Insights-X.

 

Author of this article:

Ulrich Texter

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