Prestigious Hero pen seeks to attract young customers

May 31, 2023 |

Shanghai's Hero pen brand released a dozen new products on Monday to revitalize its time-honored brand, dating back to the 1930s, and seek to attract a new generation of customers.

The new products, featuring Chinese culture, stylish designs and new materials include the Panda Gold Gift Pen, crafted with traditional techniques, which depicts pandas climbing bamboo to symbolize peace and unity.

Another product, the Hero Chinoiserie Gold Pen, combines a solid and textured design with a touch of Chinese traditional culture.

Hero's general manager, Xia Junbao, said the company adheres to the innovation strategy, to expand the products' spectrum, brand influence, and market share among domestic and overseas customers.

Hero fountain pens maintain a leading market share domestically and consistently rank first in sales in the fountain pen category on e-commerce platforms such as Tmall, Douyin, and Pinduoduo, Xia said.

The pen factory was founded in 1931 by Chinese entrepreneur Zhou Jinting under the name of Huafu. It moved to the Taopu Industrial Zone in Putuo in 1954. The brand changed its name to Hero in 1966.

The brand was witness to the country's social and economic growth. A Hero pen was used to sign the Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong in 1984. It was also the pen brand used at the APEC meeting in Shanghai in 2001, and the signing of the 2001 Protocol of the People's Republic of China on Accession to the World Trade Organization, a big step toward the country's globalization.

Gold Hero fountain pens were once presented as national gifts to foreign leaders.

In recent years, the brand has dedicated itself to developing new products for different target groups. The company's net profit exceeded 1 million yuan (US$140,992) in 2019, compared with a loss of almost the same amount in 2015. It has achieved double digital growth every year since 2020.

"In the past, our products were relatively singular, with few styles, but both product variety and market promotion have become more intense now." said Liu Genmin, the head of the nib workshop at the Hero Pen Factory.

Liu, 53, has worked in the workshop for over 30 years. He explained the nib is the first step in pen manufacturing, which requires more than 30 processes.

As one of the new products, a fountain pen boasts an adjustable nib, a recent technological innovation allowing users to alter the thickness of their writing lines freely.

The former Hero Pen factory has been preserved and turned into the China Israel Innovation Hub in Putuo District. The factory featured different industrial building styles from the 1950s and 1990s.

Putuo has preserved the original buildings and layout of the 1954 factory. About 7,500 square meters of the historical buildings now house startup enterprises in the innovation park, from both Israel and China.