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Count Andreas

Director - Asia-Pacific | 11 Nov 2011

The point is not to cling to tradition for its own sake, but to preserve it, in keeping with the times, as a successful system of values. At the same time, one must not be afraid to question existing procedures and to optimise them – that’s an essential component of success. As a brand, Faber-Castell strongly values innovation and seeks to offer products with a point of difference as well as new and exciting styles. These values put us in an excellent position to take on our competitors.

Faber-Castell is celebrating its 250th anniversary. In commemoration, the company has introduced the Graf von Faber-Castell luxury range and Faber-Castell Design range of pens. The pen costs about Rs 1.92 lakh.

Count Andreas, Director Asia-Pacific, Faber Castell, was in Mumbai recently on the occasion. In conversation with exchange4media’s Arwa Sultanali, Andreas shares the legacy and tradition of the company, how Faber-Castell has survived and grown over two centuries and the future plans for India.

Q. How has the 250-year old company managed to survive in a competitive scenario and grow?

Baron Lothar von Faber left his mark on the generations that followed, including me personally. His uncompromising efforts to build up the brand reputation, his social commitment, his creativity, his consistency, and he set about conquering new markets long before the word ‘globalisation’ ever existed – are all business qualities that are still as topical as they were then. The point is not to cling to tradition for its own sake, but to preserve it, in keeping with the times, as a successful system of values. At the same time, one must not be afraid to question existing procedures and to optimise them – that’s an essential component of success. But the most important thing for me personally is to keep an inquiring mind and never lose sight of the benefits for the customer.

Q. What, according to you, are the preferences of Indian customers regarding writing, drawing and colour-related products?

Indian customers are particularly fond of locally produced connector pens and text-liners (highlighters). Our wide range of high quality colour pencils are also much loved in India, as in the rest of the world.

Q. Is the market evolving in India for premium pens?

Yes, there is a demand for it. The premium pen market in India is worth approximately $50 million and rapidly growing. Faber-Castell is in an excellent position to cater to this growing sector. We have an extensive range of high-end pens, pencils and accessories under our Graf von Faber-Castell brand. This range has proven to be highly successful throughout the world.

Q. Tell us about the brand presence in India. How you plan to stand out in the market dominated by players such as Luxor and Parker?

Our brand presence in India is strong and growing. As a brand, Faber-Castell strongly values innovation and seeks to offer products with a point of difference as well as new and exciting styles. These values put us in an excellent position to take on our competitors. Our product range in the upper luxury market (Graf von Faber-Castell brand) is second to none and the product variety we have in our moderately-priced Faber-Castell Design range has proven worldwide to be very successful.

Q. What are your marketing strategies for India?

Our prime target is to further establish the brand by promoting the art of writing, drawing and painting. We aim to produce and market best-of-class products in the upper-third price bracket. We seek to develop and promote our ‘Companion for Life’ philosophy by reaching not only children, but also young adults through to senior executives and retired hobby artists. Our product range truly caters to people of all ages and needs, and from toddlers to professional artists.

Q. Have you assigned any agency for advertisement of your products in India? Is there any ad campaign on the anvil?

We have engaged an advertising agency. We have already featured on television in the past. This year, we plan to bring out new, fun and vibrant ads on television to maximise our penetration in the back-to-school market.

Q. How active is Faber Castell in the social media sphere? What are your digital media plans?

Social media plays an important role for Faber-Castell, especially in terms of engaging with consumers. We have an international social media strategy run by a dedicated team in Germany. Faber-Castell can be found on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Our digital plans are in line with current practice and we enjoy an active Internet presence.

Q. Tell us something about your venture into mechanical pencils?

We are a large manufacturer of mechanical pencils and it is an important part of our sales strategy. We were the first company in the world to produce the automatic lead-propelling pencil and have established a very strong profile in this area in many regions. We plan to do the same in India.

Q. Do think designing software and other tools have diluted the importance of pencils?

When we look at our sell-through or sell-out and the demand on manufacturing pencils, it seems that computer software products only make people more interested in using the real thing. There is a magic in touching a writing/ drawing instrument and this is transferred directly to your brain. It increases creativity and enhances productivity.

Q. Any tie-ups in the pipeline?

In terms of mergers/ acquisitions, of course, we always consider acquisitions which enhance our image, but merging with other companies is against our brand philosophy.

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