Retail value sales of colouring instruments experiences a resurgence of growth in 2021, albeit modest, continuing from trends established during the outbreak of COVID-19 in South Africa. Consumers bought colouring instruments before the hard lockdown started in March 2020 as parents wanted to engage children with fun activities whilst schools were closed.
Writing instruments was already struggling to grow pre-COVID-19 in South Africa, as the category continued to come under pressure from increasing digitalisation, resulting in messaging and emails on smartphones or other portable devices. In addition, despite the use of basic pens and pencils at a younger school age, local children have become increasingly exposed to digital technology both at home and for learning at school.
Bic South Africa (Pty) Ltd retained its overall leadership of writing instruments in 2020 due to its eponymous Bic brand which has a global reputation for offering high-quality products at affordable prices. It is present across a number of categories including colouring, pens, pencils, and writing accessories where it gained share pencil lead refills.
Children returned to school in 2021 although the school calendar continues to be amended due to the rising number of cases of COVID-19 in South Africa, leading to sales for basic writing instruments continuing in negative territory albeit at a slower rate, with this trend likely to continue over the entire forecast period, spurred by back-to-school efforts of various stationers and other distribution channels which retail these products offering bundles on a number of essential writing instruments. However, promotional activity in the form of discounts is likely to extend beyond this important period due to ongoing financial concerns amongst lower-income consumers as a result of the pandemic, leading to a rise in unemployment, and therefore exacerbating an already unstable economy felt by the country towards the end of the review period.
Writing instruments is likely to continue to experience increasing competition from digital devices in South Africa’s public schools, especially higher education and universities, given the rise in digital communication technologies in local educational institutions. In 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that it was the government’s intention to provide every school child with digital workbooks and textbooks on a tablet, over the course of six years.
E-commerce grew in popularity in 2020 as many consumers avoided retailers to avoid contracting COVID-19, thus showcasing the enormous potential of this channel. Home isolation and travel restrictions as a result of the pandemic made more consumers open to considering new ways of buying products such as writing instruments online.
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Understand the latest market trends and future growth opportunities for the Writing Instruments industry in South Africa with research from Euromonitor International's team of in-country analysts – experts by industry and geographic specialisation.
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This report originates from Passport, our Writing Instruments research and analysis database.
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