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Friday, March 31, 2023

How the low-cost pen that clocks Rs 400 cr turnover grew across India

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A company was created in the 1970s to give Indian students high-quality but low-cost pens. Here’s the amazing story about the growth of Linc pen in India.

Kolkata-based Linc has managed to disrupt the gel pen business and reach both rural and urban areas of India.

Deepak Jalan, managing director of Linc Pen & Plastics Ltd, claims that the company’s strength has been inventing products and producing high-quality pens since its inception by his father, Suraj Mal Jalan.

He goes on to explain Suraj founded the business in 1976. In the 1960s, he relocated from Rajasthan to Kolkata to further his education. During his academic career, he encountered the challenge of not being able to afford excellent quality pens.

Deepak recalls that using fountain pens back then was a messy affair due to the ink spilling and the need for regular maintenance. Then there were ballpoint pens, which cost Rs 10, which was prohibitively expensive for students at the time, he continues.

Deepak claims that R&D in the pen manufacturing business in India was inadequate at the time.

He claims his father enlisted the assistance of two industry colleagues, financed a few thousand rupees, and imported the ink from Germany and the tip from Switzerland. Suraj founded the company to produce ball pens for Rs 2.

The company rapidly grew and developed a foothold in West Bengal and North East India.

In 1995, the company went public. During the same decade, the company began selling to South East Asian countries as well as other parts of the world such as the Middle East, Africa, and the United States.

However, Deepak claims that entering the gel pen business has helped it expand its market beyond Eastern India.

He went on to say that the two back-to-back gel pen launches aided in reaching Tier I, II, and III cities. The pen-making sector is extremely delicate and vulnerable. As a result, it was a significant accomplishment.

One of the Linc pens that students in India love to write with is the Linc Ocean pen because of its high-quality ink and low price – one pen costs only Rs 5. Every month, about five million of those pens are sold in India, making them one of the best-selling pens in the company’s history.

Deepak claims the pen was introduced in 2003 and is still available for the same price. The cost element allowed it to penetrate the market deeply.

According to Deepak, the Linc Ocean was not the first gel pen on the Indian market. However, early entrants and competitors were charging five times the price for their items. The businesses that dominated the gel pen industry priced them between Rs 20 and Rs 25. Many kids could not afford it, and moms found it difficult to pay a premium price for a product whose refill lasted no longer than a ball pen.

Deepak says the gel pen business was expanding due to its distinct characteristics.

According to him, “the gel pen, which started selling in India after 1996, was superior to fountain and ballpoint pens. When pupils reach secondary school in India, they always switch from pencils to pens. Using fountain pens was messy and cumbersome even back then, because they frequently leaked and were of low quality. These pens, on the other hand, utilisedwater-based ink, which allows for more control while writing. Meanwhile, mothers disliked ballpoint pens because they interfered with their penmanship. They did, however, have some useful advice. Because the tip of a gel pen is similar to that of a ballpoint pen, and the refill contains water-based ink, gel pens provide the best of both worlds.” 

As a result, the company decided to provide a low-cost gel pen

Linc, like other firms in the industry, used Japanese ink, but constructed a high-quality tip and engineered a low-cost solution for the body, according to Deepak. The change helps to save expenditures while preserving writing quality.

Over 50 different types of Linc pens are made by the company that has an annual revenue of almost Rs 400 crore.

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