Growth in the education and corporate sectors is expanding the market for stationery products and solo is counting on its marketing mix to deliver the gains.

Ask Amit Gupta, the Managing Director of Filex Systems (P) Ltd, a leading manufacturer and supplier of office stationery, what he thinks is the most important thing in the stationery business and his quick reply is: the way of dealing with both companies and individuals. “When you are in this business it is important to find the right partner if you want to tackle the big company sector for your office stationery.” For most big manufacturers of stationery products, finding large institutional and corporate buyers for their products is the holy grail of this business. Even though the stationery industry is showing signs of impressive growth as a result of tremendous increase in the demand for stationery products in India, this demand is largely being driven by the growth in the educational and industrial sectors. The national market for stationery products is estimated at Rs11,000 crore and is growing at 20% per annum.

With the increasing number of schools being built, the education sector is rapidly becoming an important target group for stationery manufacturers and retailers. School notebooks alone account for Rs4,000 crore (in terms of consumer spend). An analysis of the growth drivers for the stationery market points to the growth in the education sector, growth in the industrial sector and government initiatives as significant catalysts. India is an emerging economy with a huge population base. Rising income levels coupled with the government’s impetus on educating the masses is leading to the development of the stationery market. Rising literacy rate is a chief pointer towards growth in the education sector. Additionally, it has been observed that many global companies have been setting up facilities in India while domestic players continue to expand operations due to favourable market scenarios. While growth in education will affect demand for school stationery products, industrial sector growth will drive demand for office stationery products.

About 70% of the industry’s revenue is through the sale of paper office stationery products. These include envelopes, computer paper, notebooks, folders, business forms, loose-leaf binders, social stationery, scrapbooks and other products. These products are purchased from office stationery manufacturers and distributed to retailers or directly to industrial and commercial customers. End customers include business and home offices, students, government agencies and schools. Gupta’s Filex Systems, which operates under the brand umbrella of Solo, offers a gamut of office accessories ranging from files and folders, paper boards to notebooks and desktop and laptop accessories.

The Delhi-based company started in a small way in 1996 with an initial start-up capital of Rs2 crore but has now become a leading manufacturer of a diverse range of office products and IT accessories. The company has been registering a 25% growth over the last few years but the big turning point came in 2008 when it diversified into manufacturing and retailing laptop accessories. “Solo has been on an innovation streak with product evolution continuously keeping pace with the changing demands as per the market trends,” says Gupta. While the company says its endeavour has always been to offer quality products having better functionality depending upon the usage of the product for the ultimate consumer, it has also been making some smart marketing moves to drive business and amplify its customer base. By analysing the way its customers choose and use products, it has tried building up distinct consumer profiles by segregating customers in terms of their needs and product requirements. “Your job in this business is half done if a customer is able to identify your brand when he decides on buying a stationery product. When a consumer thinks of buying a stationery product, your brand should immediately strike him for its quality and value,” says Gupta.

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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2012

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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