Gel Pen Market Analysis: Canada

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Gel Pen Market Analysis: Canada


Insights into the Canadian market for gel and erasable pens indicate that for the most part, consumers are looking for variety in their writing pencils. Variety includes different color options, pen styles, tip sizes, and more. Although there was little statistical data available on this topic, particularly in recent years, analyses of multiple pen manufacturer websites, review web pages, and retailer sites showed that not too much has changed since the earlier 2000s of what consumers prefer. Below are insights and trends for the Canadian market in terms of both gel and erasable pens.

Insights on Canadian Market for Gel Pens

  • Consumers in Canada are searching for "gel pens" much more than they are searching for "gel pen" online. According to Google Trends reports on these search terms, a majority of online searches for these terms come from British Colombia, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec.
  • According to Amazon rankings, the top 5-rated and highest selling gel pens in the Canadian market right now are:
    • 1. Glitter Gel Pen, 100 Neon Glitter Gel Pens
    • 2. Paper Mate Inkjoy Gel Pens, Medium Point, Assorted Colors
    • 3. Uni-ball 207 Colors Retractable Gel Pens, 0.7 mm, Assorted Colors
    • 4. Sakura 57370 Pens 10-Piece Gelly Roll Assorted Colors Metallic Gel Ink
    • 5. Pilot G2 Retractable Premium Gel Ink Ball Pens, Fine Point
  • These findings from Amazon Canada indicate that consumers are highly interested in gel pens that have an assortment of colors.
  • According to the Canadian Office Products Association (COPA), the typical price of gel pens in the Canadian market in 2013 ranged from around $1.50-$2.25 per unit. Upon comparison of gel pens from Zebra pens, the average prices range from around $1.60-$3.60 per pen. Prices typically vary based on the brand and ink type.
  • COPA also determined that the top selling gel pen brands in 2013 were Paper Mate, Uni-Ball, BIC, Pilot, and Zebra. Approximately 53.5% of all gel pen sales during 2013 were for commercial/business purposes. Based on top selling brands from Amazon Canada and top-rankings lists, these brands are still the most popular today.
  • The most common feature, aside from color options, that Canadian consumers are interested in and prefer are fine-tip gel pens. These provide consumers with the ability to add small details to their writing and arts/crafts, while still offering the versatility of a bolder pen.

Insights on Canadian Market for Erasable Pens

  • Google Trends analyses indicate that consumers in Canada are searching for "erasable pens" much more often than they are searching for "erasable pen." These searches are largely conducted in Alberta and Ontario. Another search term that is commonly looked up by Canadian consumers is "frixion erasable pen."
  • In a comparison of how often Canadians are searching online for "erasable pens" compared to "gel pens," Google Trends determined that for the most part, gel pens appear to be more popular. In Quebec, people are only searching for gel pens, while Alberta has the highest amount of searches for erasable pens.
  • Amazon Canada rankings for the highest-rated, best-selling erasable pens indicate that the top 3 selling erasable pens are:
  • These rankings indicate that the Pilot Frixion is the most popular erasable pen in the Canadian market right now, and fine point pens are certainly preferable to consumers.
  • Erasable pens that are also available in a variety of color options are more preferable to consumers than traditional black and blue ink options. Pilot FriXion makes erasable gel pens that come in over 20 colors and 4 different tip sizes for increased variety.

Trends in Canadian Market for Gel Pens

  • Consumers in the Canadian market are looking for gel pens that come in a variety of color and ink options.
    • Since gel pens are commonly used for artistic and creative purposes, having a variety of color options appears to increase total sales. This was visible based on Amazon top-sellers and rankings across multiple sites of the best gel pens.
    • Zebra Pens, a Canadian brand pen manufacturer, offers about 30 different color options in their gel pens alone. These pens range from $1.63/pen to $11.90/pen. The gel pens with the most color options are $3.60/pen.
  • When it comes to gel pens, consumers are interested in options that ensure a fast-drying experience and will prevent smudging.
    • One of the biggest reasons quick-drying gel pens are so important is because gel pens that take time to dry are difficult for left-handed persons to use (since their hand often sits on the content they just wrote).
    • Zebra Pens created a Rapid Dry Ink technology that is available in their gel pen options, as well. The ink is claimed to write smoothly and still offer the vibrancy of gel pens that are good for art projects, but never smudges and dries within a single second.

Trends in Canadian Market for Erasable Pens

  • Consumers in the Canadian market that are shopping for erasable pens are interested in products that are consistent in their ability to erase ink in a cleanly manner and without ruining the paper.
    • The Pilot FriXion brand offers erasable highlighters and markers that have a drier ink so that they don't bleed or smudge while using.
    • The eraser of the Pilot FriXion pens is rubber, making it last longer and not leave flakes like a traditional pencil eraser. It also doesn't require hard rubbing — thus preventing smudges and holes in the paper — because the ink isn't being removed with the eraser, but rather made invisible (due to heat sensitivity properties).
  • Consumers in the market for erasable pens are more interested in products with multiple forms, such as ones with erasers in the caps, retractable erasable pens, etc.
    • Consumers want writing utensils that are capable of doing multiple jobs for them (i.e. writing, erasing, changing colors, etc.). The more that a single pen can do at once, the better.
    • Pilot FriXion erasable pens come in 11 different forms, including retractable pens, erasable highlighter pens, fine and bold line pens, and even ballpoint-style erasable pens.
    • The FriXion pens contain ink that is heat heat-sensitive, making it possible to erase via friction with the attached rubber eraser. The eraser is typically attached to the clicker of retractable pens or the cap of others.
    • The FriXion-brand pens also come in a variety of tip sizes, including 0.38 mm, 0.4 mm, 0.5 mm, and 0.7 mm — these options allow consumers to have options when it comes to how bold they want their text to appear.

Research Strategy

In working to identify and detail insights on the Canadian market for gel and erasable pens, little statistical data was available that would help prove these points valid. A study from the Canadian Office Products Association (COPA) from 2013 certainly had the most promising information, as it contained hard data and sales statistics on gel pens, top-selling brands, and costs per unit. However, this information was from 2013, and thus didn't give much insight into today's market. As a result, the information in this report was compared with other data that was available from more recent years. For the most part, this included comparing with top-selling brands on sites like Amazon, and most favorably reviewed products within the past year. This showed that even though the actual values of how many units were sold were likely to have changed from 2013 to now, the preferred brands are still the same.

The top-selling items from Amazon Canada were also used as a starting point to understand the types of features that Canadian consumers are looking for in both gel and erasable pens. By searching for these products on Amazon and filtering out to see the highest rated options by consumers, the features that appeared most often were indicative of what consumers are interested in. From there, reviews on these pens and information obtained from manufacturer websites were used to back up these findings and better understand why the features are so preferred.

In addition to these methodologies, the use of Google Trends analyses for search terms including "gel pen," "gel pens," "erasable pen," and "erasable pens" were all compared strictly within the Canadian regions to gain insights on what consumers are actually looking up online. This showed that for the most part, people are searching more for gel pens than they are erasable pens, but both are still common. Unfortunately, this information appeared to only be available across 4 main Providences in the Canadian region, so it doesn't speak for the country as a whole.

In terms of identifying trends in these Canadian markets, they were largely determined from a study conducted by Clootrack. This study was actually taken from a global perspective, but had insights broken down for the country of Romania. Unfortunately, all studies on this topic — particularly those with hard data and market insights — were located behind paywalls. Because of this, the insights obtained from the study were used to relate back to the Canadian market using other sources. This means that the trends noted for Romania were viewed, and then additional review sites, top selling sites, and other resources that focused on the Canadian market were utilized to confirm that the trends were also applicable to what Canadian consumers are looking for.

Finally, to provide examples of pen manufacturers that are making use of the trends, the brands of the top-selling models in the Canadian market were analyzed to see how they have put the attributes into their own products. Then, review sites on these pens were used to understand if consumers have been happy or not with the final products they purchased.

  • "Numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. A score of 0 means there was not enough data for this term."
  • "July 28, 2019 - August 3, 2019: - gel pen: 29 - gel pens: 81"
  • "September 15, 2019 - September 21, 2019: - gel pen: 52 - gel pens: 65"
  • "October 20, 2019 - October 26, 2019: - gel pen: 44 - gel pens: 100"
  • "December 15, 2019 - December 21, 2019: - gel pen: 33 - gel pens: 65"
  • "January 5, 2020 - January 11, 2020: - gel pen: 63 - gel pens: 18"
  • "February 2, 2020 - February 8, 2020: - gel pen: 31 - gel pens: 43"
  • "March 29, 2019 - April 4, 2020: - gel pen: 16 - gel pens: 31"
  • "Compared breakdown by subregion: - British Colombia: gel pen (48%), gel pens (52%) - Alberta: gel pen (43%), gel pens (57%) - Ontario: gel pen (40%), gel pens (60%) - Quebec: gel pen (54%), gel pens (46%)"
  • "Interest by subregion (gel pen): - British Colombia: 100 - Alberta: 82 - Ontario: 83 - Quebec: 40"
  • "Interest by subregion (gel pens): - British Colombia: 90 - Alberta: 100 - Ontario: 91 - Quebec: 25"
  • "April 7, 2019 - April 13, 2019: - erasable pen: 0 - erasable pens: 61"
  • "April 14, 2019 - May 4, 2019; May 12, 2019 - May 18, 2019; May 26, 2019 - June 15, 2019 - erasable pen: 0 - erasable pens: 0"
  • "May 19, 2019 - May 25, 2019: - erasable pen: 32 - erasable pens: 32"
  • "August 4, 2019 - August 10, 2019: - erasable pen: 0 - erasable pens: 100"
  • "September 1, 2019 - September 7, 2020: - erasable pen: 30 - erasable pens: 60"
  • "October 20, 2019 - October 26, 2019: - erasable pen: 29 - erasable pens: 58"
  • "December 1, 2019 - December 7, 2019: - erasable pen: 0 - erasable pens: 28"
  • "December 15, 2019 - December 21, 2019: - erasable pen: 0 - erasable pens: 92"
  • "February 16, 2020 - February 22, 2020: - erasable pen: 56 - erasable pens: 57"
  • "March 15, 2020 - April 4, 2020: - erasable pen: 0 - erasable pens: 0"
  • "Compared breakdown by subregion: - Alberta: erasable pen (0%), erasable pens (100%) - Ontario: erasable pen (40%), erasable pens (60%)"
  • "Interest by subregion (erasable pen): - Ontario: 100 Related queries: frixion erasable pen (+250%)"
  • "Interest by subregion (erasable pens): - Alberta: 100 - Ontario: 58"
  • "April 7, 2019 - April 13, 2019: - erasable pens: 25 - gel pens: 75"
  • "May 19, 2019 - May 25, 2019: - erasable pens: 13 - gel pens: 78"
  • "December 15, 2019 - December 21, 2019: - erasable pens: 38 - gel pens: 100"
  • "January 12, 2020 - January 18, 2020: - erasable pens: 23 - gel pens: 11"
  • "February 9, 2020 - February 15, 2020: - erasable pens: 12 - gel pens: 92"
  • "Compared breakdown by subregion: - British Colombia: erasable pens (0%), gel pens (100%) - Alberta: erasable pens (32%), gel pens (68%) - Ontario: erasable pens (20%), gel pens (80%) - Quebec: erasable pens (0%), gel pens (100%)"
  • "Interest by subregion (erasable pens): - Alberta: 100 - Ontario: 62"
  • "Interest by subregion (gel pens): - British Colombia: 97 - Alberta: 87 - Ontario: 100 - Quebec: 26"
  • "1. Pentel EnerGel RTX Retractable Liquid Gel Pen, (0.7 mm), Medium Line, Assorted In, 12-Pk 2. Pilot 5901 FriXion Erasable Ball Pen, Gel Ink, Assorted Colors, Fine Point, Tub of 48 Pens 3. Pilot FriXion Pencil, 0.7 mm Ballpoint Pen, 12 Colors Set 4. Pilot Frixion Ball Knock Retractable Erasable Gel Ink Pens, fine Point, 0.7 mm - Blue Ink 5. Uni-ball Signo Dx Um-151 Gel Ink Pen - 0.38 Mm - 10 Pcs - Black 6. Sakura 37904 6-Piece Gelly Roll Assorted Colors Stardust Meteor Pen Set 7. Pilot FriXion Ball LX Erasable Gel Pen, Fine Point, Blue Ink, Silver Barrel 8. Gel Pens Retractable Fine Point Black Gel Ink Rollerball Pen, 0.7 mm with Grips 9. Pilot Frixion Ball Knock Retractable Gel Ink Pen, 0.55 mm, 10 colors 10. Pentel Arts Slicci Extra Fine Gel Pen, Assorted Ink, 8 Pack, 0.25 mm"
  • "1. Glitter Gel Pen, 100 Neon Glitter Gel Pens 2. Paper Mate Inkjoy Gel Pens, Medium Point, Assorted Colors, 14 count 3. uni-ball 207 Colors Retractable Gel Pens, Medium Point (0.7 mm), Assorted 4. Sakura 57370 Pens 10-Piece Gelly Roll Blister Card Assorted Colors Metallic Gel Ink Pen Set 5. Pilot FriXion Ball Erasable Gel Pens, Fine Point, 2-Pack, Black Ink 6. Pilot G2 Retractable Premium Gel Ink Roller Ball Pens, Fine Point, 5-Pack, Black INk 7. uni-ball Gel Grip Stick Medium Point Gel Pens, 12 Black Ink Pens 8. Uni-ball Signo RT Rubber Grip & Click Retractable Ultra Micro Gel Pens, 0.38 mm, black ink 9. Pilot FriXion Clicker Retractable Erasable Gel Pens, Fine Point, Assorted Color Inks 10. Yasutomo GX1007 Gel Xtreme Metallic Pens, Pack of 7"
  • "Add-It Systems, Inc. - Manufacturer of security pens, Canada Heritage & Style - Distributes Aurora Canada, Colombus; H&S KoonySun - Aviator and space them pens, Canada Staedtler Canada - Staedtler pens, inexpensive pens, Canada site"
  • "They want a pen that can write like a pen but should be able to be erased like a pencil leaving room for corrections. They really like it when they erase perfectly clean without smudging or rubbing a hole into the paper!"
  • "Manufacturers of erasable pens should note this factor and introduce revolutionary technology that bring convenience of rewriting and erasing repeatedly without worrying about holes in the paper."
  • "Offering gel pens that not just can erase but are also easy to use by offering pens with an eraser at the top of the pen tip, retractable pens that can be pressed down. "
  • "Consumers are asking for more variety when they use erasable pens. They have seen simple erasable pens, but what consumers are asking is pens that can come in multiple forms such as the pens with cap, retractable pens, a pen with good grip and click to write pens. "
  • "Consumers are asking for a wide variety in color range, multi-color pens, bright ink colors and sparkle ink pens. Manufacturers of erasable gel pens should offer a variety of desirable colors making them ideal for a variety of projects."
  • "In addition to all the above important factors, consumers do not want to compromise on the smooth writing experience of an erasable gel pen. They want to enjoy the easy writing, smooth writing, and fast drying without smudging on the paper. "
  • "Manufacturers of erasable pens should focus on offering a reliable pen that a consumer can pick up without doubt of smudging and leaking on the paper, and a pen that doesn’t skip, and its ink flow is steady and consistent."
  • "The emerging trend in this industry is to produce pens that do not use hazardous chemicals. The manufacturers of erasable pens have to move towards explicitly mentioning that the pens are non-toxic. The trend is moving towards manufacturing pens that ensures that it will not present any significant chronic adverse health effects to humans via ingestion or skin contact."
  • "Consumers feel annoyed at the constant breaking of the pens when they are dropped or kept in pockets. The emerging trend in this industry is the rise of unbreakable pens that completely eliminates this issue. Manufacturers of erasable gel pens should focus highly on providing timeless, durable and comfortable pens that can stand the test of time. "
  • "Consumers are looking at convenience and demanding for ideal pens that can multi task as a pencil or an eraser or even change colors instead of carrying multiple color pens. Manufacturers of pens should recognize the emerging trend of combining a variety of colors, pencils, highlighters and pens with erasers. Manufacturers have to find the suitable combinations and manufacturer multi-function pens that suit the requirements of majority of the consumers."
  • "The latest emerging trend is for pens that are hybrid at the same time erasable. Pen manufacturers are making a note of the emerging trend by innovating on the hybrid pens by implementing hybrid ink technology."
  • "The emerging trend in pen industry is to have smart pens and recorded pens that can satisfy both style and functionality. Manufacturers of pens should go one step ahead to offer pens with higher power microphone that can pick up sounds even from faraway distance. The pens should come with Easy One-Touch Recording that can be started just with the push of a button."
  • "J-Roller RX Gel Stick Pen: $2.18/pen Jimnie Gel Rollerback Stick Pen: $2.60/pen Z-Grip Max Gel Retractable Pen: $1.84/pen Z-Grip Gel Retractable Pen: $1.63/pen GR8 Gel Retractable Pen: $1.73/pen G-301 Gel Retractable Pen: $4.36/pen Sarasa SE Gel Retractable Pen - Rapid Dry Ink Technology!: $3.81/pen Sarasa Clip Gel Retractable Pen: $3.60/pen Sarasa Clip Gel Retractable Milk Colours: $3.60/pen Sarasa Clip Eco Gel Retractable: $3.60/pen Doodler'z Gel Stick Pen: $6.50/pen Sarasa Gel Retractable Pen - Rapid Dry Ink Technology!: $2.99/pen Sarasa Grand Gel Retractable Pen: $11.99/pen"
  • "Available point sizes: 0.5 mm - 0.7 mm Barrel Type: Plastic, Metal"
  • "Ink Colors: Black, Blue, Cobalt, Fuschia, Green, Hunter, Indigo, Orange, Pink, Port, Red, Purple/Violet, Navy, Milk Blue, Milk Blue Green, Milk Green, Milk Orange, Milk Pink, Milk Purple, Milk Red, Milk White, Blue Green, Light Green, Light Pink, Magenta, Pale Blue, Red Orange, Viridian, Yellow, Teal"
  • "Quarterly Sales - Writing Instruments (Q2 2013): - Retail: $17,019,324 - Commercial: $14,282,409 - Commercial %: 45.6 - Total: $31,301,733"
  • "Quarterly Sales - Pens (Q2 2013): - Retail: $6,665,837 - Commercial: $7,103,829 - Commercial %: 51.6 - Total: $13,769,666"
  • "Quarterly Sales - Gel Pens (Q2 2013): - Retail: $1,875,995 - Commercial: $2,161,342 - Commercial %: 53.5 - Total: $4,037,337"
  • "Quarterly Sales - Ballpoint Pens - RT (Q2 2013): - Retail: $1,986,441 - Commercial: $2,011,036 - Commercial %: 50.3 - Total: $3,997,477"
  • "Quarterly Units Sold - Total Writing Instruments: 19,516,900 (Q1), 19,195,083 (Q2) - Total Pens: 10,456,659 (Q1), 9,612,061 (Q2) - Brand: 1,443,650 (Q1), 1,418,120 (Q2) - Paper Mate: 3,205,429 (Q1), 3,047,314 (Q2) - Uni-Ball: 962,581 (Q1), 869,192 (Q2) - BIC: 1,764,938 (Q1), 1,588,972 (Q2) - Pilot: 1,034,353 (Q1), 940,362 (Q2) - Zebra: 1,113,318 (Q1), 932,456 (Q2) - Pentel: 845,418 (Q1), 748,328 (Q2) - Staedtler: 79,598 (Q1), 57,901 (Q2) - Merangue: 5,159 (Q1), 5,579 (Q2) - Stabilio: 1,754 (Q1), 3,388 (Q2)"
  • "Average Unit Price - Total Writing Instruments: $1.808 (Q1), $1.631 (Q2) - Total Pens: $1.526 (Q1), 1,433 (Q2) - Brand: $2.116 (Q1), $1.926 (Q2) - Paper Mate: $0.842 (Q1), $0.828 (Q2) - Uni-Ball: $2.357 (Q1), $2.326 (Q2) - BIC: $1.350 (Q1), $1.264 (Q2) - Pilot: $2.398 (Q1), $1.962 (Q2) - Zebra: $1.425 (Q1), $1.406 (Q2) - Pentel: $1.489 (Q1), $1.551 (Q2) - Staedtler: $2.184 (Q1), $2.086 (Q2) - Merangue: $7.375 (Q1), $7.782 (Q2) - Stabilio: $3.414 (Q1), $1.493 (Q2)"
  • "The apparent drop in sales in Q2 2013 is not due to sales in Q2 but to unusually high sales in January 2013 following disappointing Christmas sales in December 2012. Retail sales experience significant month to month fluctuation while commercial sales are more stable and predictable."
  • "Pen tips come in various sizes. If you’ll be coloring or scrap booking you may need an extra fine tip"
  • "The ink in gel pens –especially the kind used for art projects— can dry out quickly, check reviews to make sure the ink is high quality and be sure to keep the lids on your pens when not in use."
  • "They should be sturdy, they shouldn’t clog and they should allow the ink to flow across the page seamlessly."
  • "A lot of pens have a comfort grip: a small piece of rubber to make using them for long periods of time more comfortable. If you’re using your pens for coloring or art, it should be relaxing; it’s important to make sure they don’t hurt your hands while you’re using them."
  • "Top 10 Gel Pens Ultimate Table: 1. ColorIt 48 Assorted Premium Artist Quality Gel Pens: Tip Size (0.8-1.0 mm) 2. Pilot G2 Retractable Premium Gel Ink Roller Ball Pens: Tip Size (bold print) 3. ZenZoi Gel Pens 48 Ink Colors Pen Set with Case: Tip Size (fine tip) 4. Paper Make Inkjoy Gel Pens, Medium Point, Assorted Colors: Tips Size (0.7 mm) 5. Artist's Choice 100 Gel Pens with Case Extra Large Set: Tip size (fine tip) 6. Embroidex 48 Piece Pen Set Multicolor Gel Pens: Tip size (0.8-1.0 mm) 7. Sakure 37904 6-Piece Gelly Roll Assorted Colors Stardust: Tip size (1.0 mm) 8. Reaeon 200+ Coloring Gel Pens Art Set: Tip size (0.8-1.0 mm) 9. Eparon 40-piece Gel Pen Set with 40 Unique Colors: Tip size (fine/medium tipped) 10. Uni-Ball Signo 207 Retractable Gel Pen, Medium Point, Assorted Ink: Tip size (0.7 mm)"