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Faber-Castell - World’s Leading Manufacturer of Art & Graphic Tools

Research data shows that the stationery industry had been growing at mid to high single digit for the past 5 years, and is likely to pick up even more in the coming years.

The Faber-Castell Art & Graphic product line unites the best of 255 years of company experience in the development and manufacture of exclusive artists products. The KARLBOX is a unique homage to Karl Lagerfeld as well as an expression of the symbiosis between artist and tool; a special tribute to the inexhaustible creative power of designers, without whom our world would be without shape or colour.

It is divided into several drawers which include the primary colours. Therefore, in total, the KARLBOX contains 350 drawing instruments: markers, crayons, colour pencils, including reds, blacks, greens, yellows and blues set out like a colour chart. It is a valuable item, a timeless and luxurious case that Faber-Castell and KARL LAGERFELD want to offer as a limited edition that is numbered and which comes with a certificate of authenticity.

In an interaction with BW Disrupt, Nisha Sara Jose, Sr. Manager, Marketing, Faber-Castell talked about her venture.

What has helped Faber-Castell India be the brand it is today? What is its market size?

Almost two decades of being in India, what still sets us apart is that Faber-Castell yet remains a truly aspirational brand in the minds of our consumers. We have defined our products in competencies rather than just categories. We have the Playing & Learning and the General writing & marking competencies fulfils the needs of writing, coloring & drawing. Our fine writing range with its purist and functional language of form is the core for the Faber-Castell ‘Design”. Art & Graphics for creative expression and design have the highest quality products for our aspiring and professional artists. Whilst we are known largely as a Playing & Learning company, unleashing all these competencies in India, will make us truly stand apart as a “creative companion for life” amongst all age groups· The stationery industry size is about 15,000 crores largely of which belongs to paper and pens. Our own share is not significant on an overall basis as we have not really begun our journey across most categories, even though we have significant competencies in those globally. We have good shares where we have focused on in India. A third party research shows us to have leadership position in highlighting and significant share in color pencils/ crayons etc. We are also a significant player in "Back To School" business.

Tell us about the product range?

We have a wide product range which are innovatively developed for a child just starting to hold a crayon until he/she grows into a collector of our handmade special edition Pen of the Years or an artist who uses our Polychromos color pencils. Our communications revolve around our product which are designed for the benefit and improvement of quality of life for our user. Our core target
group for the playing and learning range are children and we always harp on the importance of how using colors creatively can make them fulfilled, well-developed kids. For instance, Faber-Castell was the first to launch the triangular pencil for a better comfortable grip. Our school programs which
include contests & workshops make these children aware of how to creatively use Faber-Castell products.

How has technology influenced stationery products over the year?

When competence is an important factor for our products, it is also important to adapt to changing times, technology and innovation should go hand in hand to keep stationery products in vogue. New technological processes are being researched to see how sustainable materials which are environment friendly can be used for the products. Stationery is more than a product, it’s also the
design that we sell, and therefore it was technology that helped us create the iconic Grip 2001 pencil. The water-based coating is again environment friendly and nontoxic to pencil chewers

With digital reality fast replacing the physical, how do you see stationary products retaining relevance? Do you see further entrepreneurial opportunities in this space?

Research data shows that the stationery industry had been growing at mid to high single digit for the past 5 years, and is likely to pick up even more in the coming years. This data speaks for itself. We expect to be outperforming industry growth as we introduce more and more of our global competencies in India.

We are aware of this digital shift; Faber-Castell had slide rulers which was replaced by electronic calculators. But we believe that writing or drawing would never disappear. You
will still see 3 year olds carrying a little bag filled with crayons and drawing papers. The digital artist still sketches his/her initial thought with a pencil before graphical enhancements. The artist will still need sketching pencils and paint pots to create art. We still have a small group of people who will still buy a stationary which is a piece of jewelry like our Graf von Faber-Castell Pen of the Year 2018 Imperium Romanum.

With a population growth rate of 1.2%, the Indian population demographics shows a growing percentage of age groups of 6-23 implying larger number of schools and educational institutes. The median age is also about 26 years currently and has a projected age of 28 in 2020 indicating the large user group in India for our products.

What is the role of innovation in this sector?

If you lean back and say, ‘With my products I can be happy,’ then it’s the first step to hell.”  Truly quoted by our erstwhile global CEO, with all of us trying to sustain relevance, without innovation we would be soon struggling to maintain our bond with our users.

Innovation has to lead to enhanced user experience with products but also an uplifted emotional connect with the brand. When Faber-Castell developed a technology to have water-based raised dots on the pencil it was to make a comfortable grip to hold for the user. Going beyond the basic product is creative innovation.  

The innovation in experience is also about how my users should feel about my products.
Faber-Castells focus on creativity and family-time together with our products also bring an innovative experience to them.

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