The UAE has been popularly known for the presence of highest number of international schools in the world. The market for exercise notebook in UAE has been an evolving industry with a gradually rising presence of local and regional manufacturers and distributors. Until early 2000s, there was no major player in the market and the industry thrived on imported products from major notebook manufacturing countries.
Though, a sizable portion of the market demand is still met by imports, heavy efforts are made to raise the rate of domestic manufacturing. UAE is a highly potential market for premium notebooks and diaries with increased rate of influencing factors. The market for exercise notebook is highly influenced by factors such as rising number of schools, student enrolments, child population, number of business establishments and similar other factors. The demand for notebooks in the country both local and export demand are largely catered through the imports.
Since, the country has a lack of domestic manufacturing and availability of raw materials coupled with affordable and low cost finished products from the major exporting countries such as Indonesia, China, USA, India and others have supported the rate of imports. However the country, in the recent years has started putting efforts in raising the domestic production rate of exercise notebooks. Such a decision was influenced by the increasing local demand for notebooks. The market has two major manufacturers namely Farook and PSI who are engaged in both trading and manufacturing. The country has a high preference of center stapled binding over other binding methods. Moreover, there have been cover types like soft cover and hard cover. These specifications have opened up many options before the customers making their purchase more specific. Customer preferences started being more specific to size of paper, designs, number of pages and similar features. Online channel has a tremendous future in the coming years as people in UAE are getting highly attracted towards digitization.
Which Product Dominates the Exercise Notebook Market? Imported Products or Domestically Manufactured
The UAE exercise notebook market has two types of products offered; imported products and domestically manufactured products. Imported products refer to the notebooks and diaries that are manufactured in other countries from where the importers procure the same for domestic sales and re-exports. In UAE the market demand, both local and export is largely met through imported products. As of 2016, the consumer spending on imported notebooks held a share of ~% and dominated the market with just ~% share.
The importers import different types of notebooks and diaries from countries such as China, Indonesia, USA, India and other major notebook manufacturing countries. In UAE the manufacturers also import and export finished products in the notebook market. Other trading companies include Middle East Stationery & Trading Company LLC, Dubai Library Distributors and others.
Importers either distribute the products directly to the customers in bulk or they sell it to the distributors at an importers’ price where they earn a margin of ~%. They sell the products generally in bulk. Selling in small quantities is not carried out by them.
UAE exercise notebook market lacks in terms of the presence of domestic manufacturers. However, in terms of total consumer spending on the domestically manufactured products garnered a share of ~% as of the year 2016. The notebook market of the country possesses only two well-established domestic manufacturers.
PSI and Farook are the two major domestic manufacturers in the country. Though they are small in number their production capacity is equivalent to the amount of products imported. However, in the recent years increased efforts are being put in the market for raising the local manufacturing of notebooks and similar products.
Local stationery stores like Brand Tag have also started their manufacturing within the country in small units. Over the years the production capacity of domestic manufacturers in the country has also seen a visible increase. The manufacturing factories for notebooks are located in Ajman and Sharjah. Domestic manufacturers either sell their products directly to the customers who demand for goods in bulk or they sell it to the area-wise distributors spread across the country. As the local demand for exercise notebooks and diaries are increasing, the focus on the domestic manufacturing is also rising.
Which Product Category Dominated the UAE Exercise Notebook Market?
UAE exercise notebook market includes seven major product categories namely notebooks and long books, diaries, practical book, graph book, drawing books, pocket/reminder book and others. Notebooks and long books have dominated the exercise notebook market of UAE by usage with a share of ~% in the market as of 2016 among all the variants. These books are highly demanded among the school and college going students. The spending on notebooks and long books among the people has grown at an average annual rate of ~% during 2011-2016. It increased from USD ~ million in 2011 to USD ~ million in 2016.
Notebooks have an inherent advantage of slightly low pricing and compactness which appreciates its sale over long books that are slightly difficult to carry in hand, especially for young kids. Long books are used majorly by the Grade 11 and 12 students. A5 and A4 size notebooks are highly preferred by the school management in the country especially for the optimization of baggage space.
Diaries followed notebooks and long books with a share of ~% in the overall market consumer spending. Diaries are highly demanded among the business customers. In corporate houses, the employees are gifted diaries in the beginning of every year. This attracts a high demand for diaries in the new years.
One of the major manufacturers of diaries in the country is Tellurian. An average price of a diary in UAE is AED ~. Diaries are different designs and sizes. Diaries are generally hard bound.
Practical books refers to the notebooks that are used for doing subject related project works in schools and colleges. Practical Notebooks have relatively long size (mostly A4) and are mainly used for recording scientific experiments and conduct lab assignments. Most of the practical notebooks are designed to have 1 ruled and 1 plain side.
Drawing books made out of leaves of drawing-paper, usually blank, but, sometimes partially printed with elementary designs to be copied in the blank spaces. Drawing books have comparatively longer breadth size and carry an average of 20-50 pages. In 2016 it accounted for a share of ~% in terms of overall consumer spending. Graph book sales are heavily constrained by their usability in stipulated subjects and therefore have limited scope of expansion in the overall exercise notebook market. Scrap books are notebooks with empty pages primarily used for sticking newspaper articles, pictures or any other craft materials to be stored as memorabilia. Scrapbooks come in multi-colored pages and appealing cover designs and prices may vary widely depending upon illustrative and creative designing and paper quality.
Which Purchase Channel Dominates the Market?
Stationery shops refers to the shops that stocks commercially manufactured writing materials including paper, notebooks, diaries, pens, pencils and similar other writing implements. The factor that influences the preference of a purchasing channel includes accessibility, availability, variety, price and similar factors. In UAE stationery stores are available in plenty and are easily accessible. Even a less populated emirate has a substantial number of stationery shops. As of 2016, the purchase channel that has dominated the UAE notebook market was stationery store with a share of ~% in terms of consumer spending. Stationery stores offer the customers the best possible price. College and school stationery has also a comparatively major share in the notebook market of the country. As of 2016, it accounted for a share of ~% in terms of overall consumer spending.
The choice of online purchase channel for buying exercise notebooks and diaries have not yet gained the desired market traction. However, it was able to garner a share of ~% in the overall consumer spending in the year 2016. Online channels are of two types such as the stationery shops that have an online selling portal and e-commerce shopping portals that sell exercise notebooks along with their other product line.
What are the Major Trends and Issues in UAE Exercise Notebook Market?
The UAE has been witnessing a rise in the number of school enrolments from the past few years. The quality of education in the UAE remains high, despite the negative impact of including gross tertiary education enrolment in the Global Competitiveness Index.
The number of schools in the UAE with many of the parents demanding high academic standards is similar to the levels seen in the US. While the UAE and Qatar have both remained at the forefront in attracting private investors to the education sector, the UAE has the highest number of international schools in the world; 518 in number as of the year 2016.
Smart education has also been implemented through the digital education initiative, the Mohammad Bin Rashid Initiative for Smart Learning from 2014. The project is set to introduce smart classes across all schools and facilitate a modern learning environment by providing tablets and high-speed 4G networks by 2017.
High cost of machinery purchase and production set up has been a serious challenge for the market. It has been the reason why companies outsource their manufacturing process to third parties. Heavy machineries like automatic reel to sheet ruling machine and paper cutting machine cost very high.
The business for exercise notebook is highly seasonal with majority of the demand emerging in peak season vis-à-vis average monthly sales. It has been witnessed that the school season which ranges about 3 months across the country contributes around ~% to the total sales volume of exercise notebook manufacturers.
How the Competition is prevailing in UAE Exercise Notebook Market
Competition in the UAE exercise notebook market is highly concentrated on few major players. The market demand is largely met through import of the products from other countries including China, The UK, The US and others. The country does not have a strong manufacturing base. There are only two major manufacturing companies in the country namely, Farook International and PSI. The players in the market include manufacturers and trading companies. Trading companies execute the import and export of exercise notebook products in the market.
The market is dominated by two major players namely PSI and Farook. The market share is derived out of the share of domestic manufacturers’ revenue share in the market. Other layers include the small manufacturers within the country whose production capacity, distribution network and geographical expansion is limited in comparison to the major players. These players compete against each other on the basis of parameters such as type of paper, size, material used, binding, design, distribution network, number of stationery stores, geographical penetration and similar other factors.
What is the Future Outlook for UAE Exercise Notebook Market
Exercise notebook market of UAE is anticipated to showcase a decent growth at a CAGR of ~% during the forecast period 2016-2021. Growth during this period shall be supported by the rising population of the country, rising school enrolments, focus on domestic manufacturing, probable increase in the rate of imports and similar other factors. Moreover, the number of international schools is also rising in the country. As of August 2017, UAE has the highest number of students studying in international schools in the world. In addition, an event named Paper world Middle East is scheduled to be held in Dubai from 27 February – 1 March, 2018. It showcase of all kinds of paper products and stationery items from all across the world. Such an event is expected to make the people aware about the different varieties of the product and encourage people to buy the best suitable ones for their uses. All these factors with more similar factors shall augment the market growth. The overall consumer spending in the exercise notebook market of the UAE is expected to reach USD ~ million by 2021.
Ankur Gupta, Head Marketing & Communications