Writing instruments continue to be on trend as portable branded communication devices.
While the growth of email communication and the digitization of the world may have increased the need for computers and mobile devices, it hasn’t decreased the need for writing instruments. Quite the opposite. In fact, a Technavios market research report predicts that by 2019 the writing and marking instruments market will have grown five percent annually since 2015. And the market for writing instruments is expected to reach $17.5 billion by the year 2020, according to Global Industry Analysts, Inc. The organization also reports that market drivers fueling the increasing demand include a penchant for luxury pens, an increase in the number of home offices, a large base of students and corporations, and strong product innovation.
So what are the other trends underlying this expanding promotional category? Mike Fleming, vice president of sales at supplier Hub Pen (UPIC: hubpen), says that smooth writing inks found in hybrid ink pens are growing in popularity. Hybrid ink pens combine the best features of ballpoint bens and gel ink rollerballs—saturated color and non-smudging. “We introduced several new pens featuring hybrid inks in 2016,” Fleming says. He reports that sales of hybrid ink pens have increased by 67 percent in the past year. “Our ultra-smooth writing Javalinas and Mardi Gras pens are our best sellers, so the demand for better-writing inks is huge,” he adds.
Rhonda Reilly, sales manager, promotional products at Pilot Pen Corporation of America (UPIC: PILOT1), believes that the biggest pen industry trend revolves around brand. “It is not all about price anymore,” Reilly says. “Millennials buy brand and are seeking out brand-name pens more and more.” She also points to the “cool factor” of pens as a draw for end users. “Our FriXion (pronounced friction) pens are the No. 1 selling erasable pen in the U.S. These pens are made with a unique thermo-sensitive ink that disappears with erasing friction. The cool factor is that when you put the paper in the freezer the ink will reappear. We do not recommend people use this pen for legal documents,” she emphasizes.
Fleming urges distributors to keep an eye on the colors popular in the retail fashion world when choosing pen colors for their clients—just like Hub Pen does when planning new product introductions. “When selecting colors for new pen intros, we keep in mind not only what is selling but also what is popular in fashion. Popular logo colors often follow these trends and we try to select what works best for our distributors and their end users.”
As for what else is trending in pens, Fleming says, “Multifunction pens with LED lights continue to trend well, particularly for medical/hospitals, law enforcement or anyone working at night. Plus, they just have a ‘wow factor’ as a gift or incentive.”
The Write Touch
B2P gel ink pens are made from at least 86-percent post-consumer recycled plastic. The gel ink pens include the same ink as G2 gel ink pens. The ink in the B2P matches the color of the barrel and plunger. The B2P Ball Point has a non-slip grip and is USA-made. Imprinting options include a four-color label as well as a single color on the clip. These pens are great for eco-friendly companies, schools and municipalities.
Pilot Pen Corporation of America UPIC: PILOT1 www.pilotpen.us
The ultramodern TerraNova features an exclusive mesh micro-stylus designed for ultrasensitive connectivity with smartphones and tablets. When the cap is pushed on, it triggers a powerful LED flashlight. Ultrasmooth writing ink makes it a pleasure to use and the triangle shaped barrel keeps it from rolling away.
Hub Pen Company UPIC: HUBPEN www.hubpen.com
The Fiji multifunction ballpoint pen features an LED flashlight, whistle and neck cord with a safety breakaway mechanism. Universities, travel companies, resorts and municipalities would be great markets for these multi-function pens.
St Regis Crystal, Inc. UPIC: stregis www.stregiscrystal.com
The Sargent-W wide-body retractable pen features a full-barrel digital wrap imprint and 11 stock colors. Custom trim colors provide options for either matching or contrasting the trim with the imprint colors. With the digital wrap imprint, the cost is not dependent on the number of imprint colors.
Bankers Pen Co., Inc. UPIC: BANKERS www.bankerspens.com
The InkBend Standard™ is a U.S.-made, full-size ballpoint pen bent into one of hundreds of stock shapes or your own custom shape. It’s available in a variety of opaque and transparent colors, and can include a one-color custom barrel imprint. All pens include a breathe-through safety cap.
Bentcil Co. UPIC: BENTCIL www.bentcil.com
These unique whimsical pens are designed by international artist Massimo Indrio (brother of Alpi CEO Francesco Indrio), well known for his flipbooks, children’s books and animation as well as his designs of characters and products that have sold millions of pieces around the world. Custom caps can be created for any customers’ needs while leaving the body unchanged.
Alpi International, Ltd. UPIC: ALPI0002 www.alpi.net
Choose from 11 bright colors on the Vision Brights+ wide-body pen. The SimpliColor™ printing process provides one of the largest one- to four-color process imprints with no set-up fees, no run charges and free ground freight. The gel-like, Eversmooth® ink ensures an extraordinary writing experience in black and blue ink choices. This pen is made in the U.S. of domestic and imported parts.
Goldstar Pens UPIC: GLDSTAR www.goldstarpens.com
The chic new BIC® Avenue Stylus Pen features a trendy metallic-colored barrel with a peek-through grip design. This chic new pen will promote your client with panache.
BIC Graphic USA UPIC: BIC www.bicgraphic.com
The Touch Pen is a slim metal twist pen with a full-length metal refill and a rubber stylus tip for all touchscreen devices. It’s available in white, red, blue and black.
SAMCO Line UPIC: samco www.samcoline.com
The .07 mm Solaris Value Click Pencil has a slim profile and ribbed grip for a comfortable hold. It includes a handy eraser and comes in five bold colors.
ADG Promotional Products UPIC: ADGPROMO www.adgpromo.com
With a stylus, highlighter and a pen, this twist action pen is perfect for college and university students as well as business professionals. The pen includes black German ink with a removable cap for the chisel tip highlighter. Colors available include blue, orange and yellow.
Beacon Promotions UPIC: BEACONP www.beaconpromotions.com
Throw a fiesta for your successful marketing campaign featuring this maraca pen. Miniature wooden maracas rattle when they shake, making a big impact. Offered in an assortment of colors, this pen will grab attention at restaurants, trade shows or as themed party favors.The pen is filled with black ink.
Essef Distributors UPIC: 7414140 www.lincolnline.com
The Right Message
A chemical company needed a branded product for a trade show to promote their stance on environmental awareness while also keeping the product relevant to its industry. The Oasis Recycled Bottle Pen, made of recycled plastic, was selected as a perfect fit for its message, with the slogan “Plastics make it possible” on the barrel. As a result, the company received a 20,000-piece order and the products were a big hit at the trade show.
Source: Hit Promotional Products
Coloring Book Craze
The adult coloring book market is still going strong, according to Dave TenEyck, Northeast territories sales manager for Fields Manufacturing (UPIC: FIELDS), which sells a line of stock (seven themes) and custom coloring books called Color Comfort. “With awareness-based products like adult coloring books, the everyday need for the product outlives the initial popularity,” he says. Matt Wagner, Fields’ director of sales development, says, “Universities and large corporations are doing custom coloring books by providing photos of various buildings and aspects of their business or organization. This is a good, creative way for new customers, college freshmen and new recruits to become familiar with the campus or company.”
Wagner recommends capitalizing on the craze by pitching adult coloring books and colored pencil or crayon sets to:
- Colleges: they can be given out at exam time to help ease the tensions and pressure of studying for mid-terms and finals.
- Hospitals: for incoming patients and families who may have time on their hands while recovering or visiting. The kit with a coloring book and the colored pencil set works well and the hospital’s name can be printed on both the book and the pencil set.
- Healthcare/insurance companies: for help spreading the word about stress awareness and relief.
- Senior living and rehabilitation centers: for creative and active mind activities.
- Cancer treatment centers: to help patients and families ease the stress of diagnosis and to help pass the time during treatments.
- Financial companies: to promote stress-free banking.
Branded pencil or crayon packs make the perfect companion to adult coloring books.
Julie Richie is associate editor for PPB.