The market for exercise notebooks in India has been traditionally dominated by the unorganized segment. From the endpoint of marginal retailers to independent sellers, all have been dependent on imports from China. However, the market has developed to achieve a substantial valuation which was not there until 2000. The evolvement of organized brands such as ITC Classmate, Navneet and others have added premium to the market, discerned by the fact that the prices of exercise notebooks have grown 5-6 folds and even more than that in some cases in the last decade. The rapid growth of the market demonstrates that there are vast opportunities for emerging players who are willing to initiate exercise notebook business in India.
By type of usage, notebooks and long books accounted for the highest revenue and volume sales among all the variants. Notebooks have an inherent advantage of slightly low pricing and compactness of size which appreciates its sale over long books that are slightly difficult to carry in hand, especially for young kids.
Modern trade stores and online channels are the major purchase points in tier-I cities. In fact, more than 55% increase in the number of modern trade stores in this segment over the last five years has changed the retail landscape for exercise notebooks from standalone small time retailers to supermarkets/hypermarkets and online retailers. Around 70.0% of the online stationery demand comes from tier-I cities.
Classmate range of exercise notebooks which was one of the first notebooks to feature a premium design, had superior quality papers and was reasonably priced. Moreover, the company’s strong positioning in paper pulp manufacturing business has provided it an edge in developing and assuring the usage of superior quality of paper for its notebooks.
ITC is followed by Navneet which is one of the oldest stationery brands and has got a widely popular publishing business. The company has a strong presence in Western and Southern India owing to its established publishing name. The company is looking forward to expand its export business and consolidate its share in Southern and Northern parts of India.
Sundaram Group designs, manufactures and markets paper stationery products – exercise note books, long books, note pads, scrap books, drawing books and graph books.
Spirally binded diaries also take comparatively lesser time in getting binded than a threaded notebook which has also been an important factor in instigating the sales of these variants.
Sales are heavily constrained by their usability in stipulated subjects and therefore have limited scope of expansion in the overall exercise notebook market. Moreover, graph papers and scrap sheets are purchased loose most of the time at the retail level which affect sales growth in this segment.
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Ankur Gupta, Head Marketing & Communications