What Do Your Sales Say to You?
Distributor 4AllPromos sent out a press release this week titled "Promotional Products Industry Sees Rise in Pen Sales." In it, they cite a PPB survey that says the sales of writing instruments have increased two percent since 2009, and as ancillary evidence the press release notes that 4AllPromos' pen sales also increased during that period.
Is it true that pens are increasing in popularity, so much so that they "even beat out apparel as the most popular type of promotional product in 2010"? If so, what does that mean and what can we learn from it?
The press release specifically mentions the Javalina pen from Hub Pen Company, so I thought I'd reach out to them for comment. As a company that almost exclusively sells pens, if there are any trends in the writing instrument market, they should see them.
"Actually, our sales have increased," said Joe Fleming, president of Hub Pen Company. "We've seen a trend toward more appreciation for pens that are a good value and have consistent quality that folks can rely on."
The company's numbers bear this out: revenue increased over 23 percent between 2009 and 2010, from $24,700,000 to $30,500,000. Hub Pen Company moved up six spots to number 38 on the Promo Marketing Top Supplier list this July.
Where in the writing instrument market is the company seeing an increase? "Your everyday pens, pens that are comfortable to write with are more popular than ever, regardless of cost. People are willing to spend for the quality of a long lasting pen," Fleming said. "Customers want the pens that people want to use and hang onto."
What this tells us is that there's an increase in less expensive promotions, but not in products perceived as cheap. Looking at the Top 50 Suppliers list, we see several companies that focus on products in the $1 to $5 range—SnugZ USA, Hit Promotional Products, Gill Studios, Garyline—that saw multi-million dollar increases last year. Another thing these companies have in common is a tendency toward products with high utility: drinkware, lanyards and, of course, writing instruments.