Condition of the Fountain Pen Market

DURING the world war the fountain pen received sudden and wide-spread recognition among millions of men and women who had theretofore given it scant attention. This popularity, engendering in training camps, hospitals, on shipboard, and even in the trenches, continued when the soldiers, sailors, and nurses returned to civilian life greatly enlarging the pen market that had previously existed.

Sales reached their peak in 1920 during the general business inflation. In 1921 they declined, and the prospect became discouraging when this decline continued over the first quarter of 1922. What was to be done now?

Fountain pens had been advertised for a generation. From time to time, they had been improved mechanically. But while the different makes varied in construction, all appeared to the casual observer to be essentially the same. Practically all pens were black, plain or gold mounted,- long, medium or short in size. But inasmuch as the leading manufacturers all produced these various styles, none had any great competitive advantage except in the size of his advertising expenditure.

The pen advertising, like the pens themselves, appeared to be ‘standardized’. There were no great appealing distinctions. The only stride the industry had been able to take had been due to the war. Now the business seemed to be slipping back.

Would sales continue to recede until the point of ‘settled’ production was reached- a settles amount of replacement business and a settled amount of new business each year; but no great gains? And how far down from the peak was the point of ‘settled’ production? Could nothing be done to turn the sales-curve upward, or had production reached the saturation point?

These were the questions with which manufacturers were confronted in January, February, and March, 1922. Meanwhile, one manufacturer had sought an unusual solution. We shall see what this was, and how and why it succeeded.

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