Cross Brand Pens
In the event you are new to the blog, recently we’ve had a set studying the competitiveness of brands in FP market. 1st post launched the notion of competition and innovation, and each post features viewed a different sort of group. Today is the last post, in which we explore the smallest amount of competitive companies on the market.
Before we begin, i must say i desire to emphasise that a lack of competitiveness does not always mean why these companies tend to be necessarily the losers available in the market or possess tiniest market share. In reality, it includes a few of the most prominent brands (Parker, Sheaffer, and Waterman) which makes it an essential category to comprehend. It shows that you could be uncompetitive – you can launch items where the worth proposition is fairly poor, often at a considerable markup – yet remain profitable. There’s a reason these brands mostly just offer cartridge/converter pencils.
Those of you with fundamental microeconomics using your belt might wonder how this really is possible: shouldn’t consumers favor products which provide them with lots of price and move away from various other companies? Well, it depends. To my brain, this can be a reputational effect: companies with a lengthy history of excellence and innovation have attained value when you look at the thoughts of numerous consumers, a reputation that could be totally unrelated with their existing item providing. This may maintain a company long after they stop being the best value for money. And, though it saddens me to say-so, sometimes this could be the perfect strategy for a manufacturer. For just about any business that has a FP brand in decrease, you can find only two choices: a big investment in R&D or a slow decrease in quality and product sales. A lot of companies faced this option within the 1990s and early 2000s; Montblanc made the decision to spend and contains reduced very well for them. Other brands, which we’ll discuss below, are in managed drop.
Cross does not fit the notion of managed decline as neatly as other brands, but I nonetheless look at company as you very nearly universally shunned by educated users. While they tend to be a big US maker and even provide US presidents*, their whole range tend to be stock-standard cartridge-converters with relatively standard styles and a poor price idea. Their top-of-the-line model, the Townsend (gold nib, $320), is really not too not the same as a Parker Sonnet (metal ??, gold ??), it self a pretty dull offering. Which they just offer two nib sizes (fine and method) and erroneously claim silver nibs naturally adapt to your writing style, I’m relatively certain Cross aren’t experts in water feature pens and aren’t offering to those who are.
*we suspect part of here is the have to be seen making use of American companies. It is rumoured that Barack Obama is a Montblanc/Visconti lover therefore, state what you should about his politics, nevertheless the man’s got exceptional pen style.
I’ve already talked about Esterbrook in some detail and can have significantly more to say in Friday's post. Of course, they’re not exactly the absolute most revolutionary or competitive brand that is around today and – barring some significant changes – I however don’t expect all of them to-be with us a lot longer.
Parker are most likely the most beloved classic brand around and when you appear at a 51 or a Vacumatic, it’s obvious why. These pencils were innovative within their time, revolutionary technology aggressively listed, and stay breathtaking and practical these days. These are generally undeniably perhaps one of the most consequential brands in FP record.
But once you look at their modern range, do you see beauty? Innovation? Revolution? We truly don’t. I see a selection of pencils which are good – although not great – quality offering small value relative to everything else available in the market. The IM ($64), Urban ($79), and Sonnet ($140) tend to be essentially the same, steel-nibbed, cartridge/converter pen at different rates additionally the gold-nibbed pens ($250 or more) don’t provide a great deal more. Whenever you’re that a great deal more expensive than a Lamy 2000 (silver nib, $160) or a Pilot Vanishing Point (silver nib, $140), you really need to provide consumers a little more than Parker do. At the very least, you ought to offer something more than simply good and moderate nibs. Perhaps the historic throwbacks – the current Duofolds and Vacumatics – are fairly lacklustre.
Parker might still be one of several biggest-selling companies available in the market however it’s been quite a long time because they had been aggressively competitive. My feeling is the fact that their particular FP client base is going to drift more and additional away from people who know anything about these items, and in the end dry out entirely. It’ll be a sad day whenever Parker quit the FP company, but unless they begin to practice some serious innovation and competitors, it is also an inevitable one.
Despite this, I do have to give the total organization some credit for his or her readiness to take a position and develop the Parker fifth Generation technology. It hasn’t exactly grabbed the FP market (or any other people) but they certainly deserve value for putting some severe money into R&D for a new product.
Maybe not unlike Parker (or Waterman, as we’ll see), Sheaffer has a selection of metal-bodied, steel-nibbed cartridge-converter pens that hardly vary from both: the 100 ($45), Sagaris ($65), 300 ($80), and Intensity ($90). Apart from some obscure design differences, these appear to be exactly the same product. Sheaffer’s flagship pen may be the Legacy ($400) that has a dramatically various design and a fantastic inlaid, silver nib however the exact same exhausted C/C completing system. The 2013 release of the Taranis ($145) produced some pleasure about a potential new path for Sheaffer, but that way does not seem to have led all of them anywhere various.
My experience is that Sheaffer pencils possess some interest brand new people (specifically those who are more content with companies which they already know just and trust), hence the expansion of less expensive models. The Taranis and Legacy are, in my experience, deeply unimpressive and extremely don’t contend with the caliber of various other products shopping. Although users have good stuff to express about Sheaffer nibs (gold and steel), it is certainly not enough to set their pens aside and definitely not really worth the advanced when compared with other companies. The sole innovation in recent record for Sheaffer was the look regarding the Prelude (circulated in 2012 and very quickly withdrawn) as well as the Taranis, but even these happen various relative to the Sheaffer range instead of something drastically dissimilar to the FP marketplace. While definitely an iconic brand, it is hard to believe that Sheaffer is currently in circumstances of certainly not handled drop.
That said, Sheaffer ended up being offered a year ago to Cross. The price had been said to be around US$15mn (which will show there’s still cash becoming produced from a brand name in drop) and it'll be interesting to see if Cross invest in R&D and try to restore the brand name, or address it like remainder of Cross’ pen business. While I’d like to begin to see the former, my (demonstrably cynical) hope is the latter.
Eventually, to a brand name that actually amazed me within my study – and not in a great way. As it happens that Waterman’s distribution is a lot more limited than I anticipated. While our French correspondent, /u/martinsimonnet, reports the brand is huge in the nation and widely accessible indeed there, in the usa they're not held whatsoever by Goulet Pens, JetPens, or Pen Chalet, and Anderson Pens carry an individual design. When you look at the UK, the (US). (If some of my business readers can shed light on this, I'd be interested to know the reason why!)