The enormous leap of stationery manufacturers from tv to digital advertising and marketing

Who doesn’t remember the hilarious Camlin permanent marker advertisement that brought a dead man to life, or the royal victory of Nataraj in a pencil race, or Shah Rukh Khan taking a “waterproof test” to identify his clone or he turns everything from student to company employee for Linc Pens! These are just a few of the many iconic ads that led to the establishment of bases for several major stationery brands in India. They used television as a great medium to reach their potential customers and spent a lot of money on ATL marketing. Some, especially those in the writing implements category, have also recruited prominent endorsers to get their share of attention. However, with the rise of the digital revolution and the shift in consumer trends, the brands’ affinity to great ambassadors and ultimately to television as an advertising medium gradually declined. And then finally, the pandemic really turned the industry into a digital-first marketing entity. exchange4media traces the great change of stationery brands in India from television to digital.

From liberalization to digitization

According to TAM AdEx data published in 2011, writing instruments were the fifth largest advertising category on television, accounting for 3% of total advertising volume in 2001. The brands were actively visible on the screens, trying to build a market for themselves. Shortly thereafter, from 2007 to 2008, brands like Reynolds and Cello began introducing great brand ambassadors to increase their brand awareness.

Commenting on this trend, says FoxyMoron (Zoo Media) National Head-Client Partnerships and Business Head, North Prachi Bali: “This phase correlates directly with the emergence of the corporate world in India. The boom in the private sector, the socio-economic composition of the country, Generation X, the career milestones reached, Generation Y (millennials) as students with ambitious dreams – all of these were aimed at celebrating professional successes. And a great marker of this success were writing implements. Having these great brand ambassadors pretty much built that correlation in the minds of consumers. “

Wunderman Thompson Kolkata SVP & Managing Partner Vijay Jacob added: “The stationery category used to be highly commodified, with local suppliers offering inexpensive but inferior offers. In order to get people to know and improve on brands in a popular mass category like stationery at this point in time, it required the support of well-known celebrities and actors who had mass appeal. It helped people get interested in brands and got them to try them out, even if they paid a small premium for it. “

However, with digitization, the trend subsided. While the big brand ambassadors began to leave the scene around 2011, the brands slowly went digital over the next few years, which really became popular in the pandemic era. According to TAM AdEx data, ad volume for the stationery category on television decreased 23% from January to June 2021 compared to the same quarter of 2019.

During the same period, the number of advertisements placed in the stationery category in digital media rose 19-fold.

Rohan Chincholi, Head-Digital at Havas Media India, explains: “What was once a classic and linear model from AIDA has now become a complex herringbone design in which a user is exposed to multiple points of contact that support him on his buying journey . We have to admit that audiences are in a state of active evaluation for all categories – always compared to several other brands. If your brand isn’t visible, someone else will take over. “

Himanshu Arya, Founder and CEO of Grapes Digital, further notes, “A traditional medium like television is an expensive way to market your product. Brands know that students spend most of their time on digital channels. Therefore, spending their market budget on digital media gives them an advantage. “

From building brands to building salience

Another thing that has shifted in the marketing strategy of stationery brands is their focus from building brand awareness to building brand awareness. And there’s nothing like digital marketing for that.

Linc Pen and Plastics Ltd Managing Director Deepak Jalan said, “Pen is a low participation category. Most of the students were our top TG and they show brand loyalty around the exams. So when we worked with great brand ambassadors like Shah Rukh Khan and Katrina Kaif between 2008-11, our focus was on building brand awareness and creating a loyal prodigy of customers. And while it didn’t have a huge impact on our sales back then, it certainly increased brand awareness. Today, brand awareness is not an issue for us. We just want to be available and visible to our customers at all possible touchpoints. “

He adds that in addition to the usual retail presence, they are aggressively working on a solid digital strategy and increasing their presence on e-commerce channels as well.

Reynolds General Manager – India & South Asia Rajat Vohra emphasizes in the same way: “I would say that our brand awareness has increased by 20 points after three months of continuous ads with Sachin Tendulkar. But interestingly, even after we stopped running those big celebrity ads, it didn’t go back. It stayed constant. Right now it makes more sense to have a digital presence as our core TG of students is there. In addition, our focus from now on is more on building awareness and awareness of the different products we have. While we’re known for writing implements, for example, there are many other art products that we’d like to promote, and engagement from influencers really helps us move that agenda forward. “

Now brands only rely on traditional advertising on television for new product launches or festive occasions, as Bali shares: “Traditional advertising channels are no longer used very much unless it’s for gifts or festive occasions. Digital is used to promote the adaptation of the instruments themselves. Also, many luxury / premium brands are using digital media to attract new audiences. This has also polarized consumers, where stationery has become a passion. “

Jacob adds, “Brands generally pass the primary introductory communication or product information in traditional media while sharing the links to the social media pages for ongoing brand engagement. Traditional media help inform and build memories, while modern channels help build brand awareness and connection. “

The rise of e-commerce

Another factor contributing to this shift in marketing rupees to digital media is the rise of ecommerce platforms.

Chincholi agrees: “Consumers have evolved; Owning stationery has become an extension of personality – from brand choice to functional relevance. To encourage this choice, ecommerce platforms have helped discover newer brands and ensured availability in the shortest possible time from order to delivery. The legacy brands continue to use social platforms with a lot of meaningful content and also use online videos very effectively. Given that 26.31% of the Indian population is currently in the 0-14 age group, India has approximately 250 million school children (source:, which shows a mammoth potential from the student base alone. “

The category will therefore grow more rapidly on digital platforms in the coming days. From introducing new technology into products to expanding their presence on social media, several things will make the next chapter in their history. It will surely be interesting to see how it swings from here!

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