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Home arrow Market Research Findings arrow Computers And Office Equipment arrow Britain refuses to write off the art of letter writing
Britain refuses to write off the art of letter writing PDF Print E-mail
Written by MINTEL   
31 Jul 2006

Britain refuses to write off the art of letter writing

You've got mail! No not an email, but paper mail as according to latest research from MINTEL the art of letter writing is still thriving, with a surprising number of British reaching for the traditional pen and paper.

Despite the advent of new technology, such as emails and texts, the market for personal stationery and writing instruments, rose by a healthy 9% between 2001 and 2005 to reach £527 million. What is more, by the end of 2006 the market is set to reach some £546 million, a rise of 4% on 2005 figures - the greatest annual increase since the start of the millennium.

While you may think that modern Britain would now see pen and paper as an out of date way of communicating, MINTEL's exclusive consumer research shows that fewer than one in ten (9%) feel that 'handwritten letters are old-fashioned'. And as younger generations are less likely than older ones to feel this way the art of letter writing would seem to have secured its future. Indeed, MINTEL forecasts that in the coming five years growth is set to be even greater than the first half of the decade at 11% to reach £605 million by 2011.

Letter writing has also had the royal seal of approval, with Prince Charles claiming to have personally written 2,247 letters in one year alone. Meanwhile, Camilla penned 869 and they jointly composed 320 letters.

"There is an assumption that new technology always replaces old in the way that DVDs have replaced the video. But emails and texts have not replaced personal stationery and writing instruments, and in fact the old and the new seem to be complementing each other well. The new electronic forms of communication have made it easier for people to stay in touch and reminded many just how good it can be to send and receive messages. This trend has had a positive impact on the more traditional pen and paper market as people look for a variety of ways to stay in touch," comments David Bird, senior market analyst at MINTEL.

In 2005 writing instruments accounted for about 68% of the total market value, a proportion that has changed little over the last five years, with paper based-products making up the remainder.

Posh penning
Not only are we sticking with the traditional pen and paper, we are writing in style and going up market with our choice of pens and paper. People are beginning to treat personal stationery and writing instruments as fashion accessories which reveals something about their taste, style and personality. Indeed there are ever more designer brands in this market such as Paul Smith and Burberry allowing design conscious consumers to do just that.

By far and away the fastest growing sectors of the writing instrument market are the high end and quality pens, with multi-function (40% growth), mechanical pencils (33%) and the old school favourite, the fountain pen (18%) seeing the greatest rises in sales between 2001 and 2005. When it comes to paper, it is special occasion paper which has exploded onto the market, with sales growing by as much as 55% over this same four year period.

"In today's world receiving an email or text or a typed faced letter is no longer seen as a special correspondence, while receiving a handwritten letter is more exciting and feels that bit more thoughtful. Personally penning a letter is likely to set your note apart from the rest making it more memorable, more meaningful and certainly more romantic," explains David Bird.

About Mintel
Mintel is a worldwide leader of competitive media, product and consumer intelligence. For more than 35 years, Mintel has provided key insight into leading global trends. With offices in Chicago, London, Belfast and Sydney, Mintel's innovative product line provides unique data that has a direct impact on client success. For more information on Mintel, please visit their Web site at

Last Updated ( 31 Jul 2006 )
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