Lamy Pens: Writing History in a Declining Market

Lamy Pens: Writing History in a Declining Market

Marketing for Medium Sized Companies
Fountain pens, pens or rollerball pens may be, in the eyes of many, things of the past, for which there is no more room in the world of smartphones, Alexa and speech recognition technology. But by tripling their turnover over the last ten years, long established pen manufacturer Lamy from Heidelberg, Germany, proves that with innovation and targeted marketing, even a shrinking market can be navigated successfully. What’s Lamy’s secret? We investigated a bit.


Josef Lamy, former export manager for US pen manufacturer Parker, Josef Lamy set up his own company in Heidelberg in 1930. Breakthrough came in the early 50’s, with the streamlined Lamy 27. For a long time Germany’s go-to pen for learning to write, Lamy also distinguish themselves with their design and established themselves as upmarket brand. In late 2006, Josef Lamy’s son and successor Manfred retired from the company’s board. After two generations, the family business was taken over by an external managing director. Within 10 years, Bernhard Rösner and his management team not only managed to lead the company out of its crisis, but also to expand. How did they do it?
 
Focusing on core strengths  
In the digital age, the keyboard rules over the pen. Lamy, after a short-lived experiment with “hybrid pens” for tablets, countered this development with a return to their brand essence: the Bauhaus principle. High quality, simple design – form follows function. The company is helped by the economic crisis in the wake of mindfulness, the return of the analogue, and buying locally. After segmenting the company into “Young”, “Modern” and “Premium”, Lamy positions its products as part of a lifestyle – and with considerable success.
 
Expanding internationally – investing locally
Unlike many of its competitors, Lamy has dedicated itself entirely to its original location in Heidelberg. Employees agreed to increase their working hours, in return for 95% of the production process happening on site, including design and the often time-consuming development of new mechanisms and equipment. With this old-school Made in Germany approach, Lamy scores not only in Germany itself but especially in Asian countries, where German design and high-quality craftmanship are extremely popular. Their successful move into the Asian market, with Lamy flagship stores in major cities such as Singapore, Tokyo, Taipei and Mumbai, has contributed significantly to Lamy’s growth in recent years.
 
Marketing, to the point
In addition to the colorful products for their young target group of pupils, Lamy pens are marketed as lifestyle products for connoisseurs and enthusiasts. That’s why the company relies on PoS rather than on mainstream media. The product is staged accordingly, potential buyers get knowledgeable advice. The shopping experience is king. A young generation of writing bullet journalling enthusiasts will be picked up via facebook, instagram and a website featuring appealing content around writing and those passionate for it. Stores also attract their audience with writing events and workshops such as calligraphy and more.
 
Innovation and Stability
While Lamy remains faithful to its Bauhaus principles in terms of both quality and design of their products, new styles and variations of pen classics are regularly brought to the market. From a sophisticated rotary pen to the development of a case made of stainless steel and polycarbonate to the shimmering in gold and silver pens to tribute the 50th anniversary of the Lamy design. Again and again, the company receives design awards – and stages the good old pen as a desirable collector’s item. Their success proves Rösner and his management team right: Since introducing the new strategy in 2007, Lamy’s turnover tripled – despite a shrinking market. Handwriting made by Lamy still has a few stories to tell.
 
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Further reading:
https://www.wiwo.de/unternehmen/mittelstand/lamy-alles-noch-mal-neu-schreiben/14821968-all.html
https://www.unternehmeredition.de/marken-und-macher-lamy/
https://chinamarketingblog.com/2016/07/28/werbewirksame-jubilaeen-bei-montblanc-und-lamy/