Like wardrobes, watches, and cars, a pen can tell a lot about a person. Given the nature of the pen – which mixes the personal and the functional – it has the ability to signal to others the style of writing they like, their income, their respect for heritage or classics. The list goes on.
Because pens have the capability of telling so much about the owner, I think we could extend this even further. Instead of the writer being asked to choose an existing pen – what if manufacturers created bespoke pens that are specifically designed with their customers’ every needs met? From clashing colors to fun combinations, a configurator is one way that companies can extend the customer base and better compete with smaller, more nimble artisan brands.
A configurator would allow for customers to choose from a menu of factory offerings which would, in turn, be easy for the manufacturer to produce ad hoc. Beginning with the model type, one could then design their dream pen, which could include specialty color blends, nib sizes, clip material – the possibilities could be endless. It is this next venture that could be adopted by more in the pen industry that could ultimately lead to a revival in a customer base that craves specificity and exclusivity.
Of course, we understand that manufacturing practices limit this for most pen brands, but how amazing would it be to discover a Sailor at a pen show that no one has ever seen before? Pairing that with a custom grind from a nibmeister and you have a truly unique, bespoke experience that’s a representation of you!
So, with that, what brands are doing it? There is the Italian giant, Montegrappa, who has spearheaded the process with their own configurator. Everything from cap to barrel, clip to engraving is able to be chosen by the customer for a unique experience.
Otto Hutt, one of the leading German pen brands, has a similar concept where you can choose the material of the pen from their designs. It opens up new possibilities and invigorates a resale market where these custom pens become increasingly rare since they are not usual stock.
Configurators give the reigns into the consumer’s hand and we see more potential from pen brands for this practice. With the advent of bespoke experiences on the rise and working with small-production artisans, this may be one way to compete in a growing market without sacrificing on brand identity, but instead working with the consumer to make something truly unique.