Faber Castell is a global enterprise with core competencies in the fields of learning and playing, Marketing, General writing, Graphic collections and Premium Art. The firm’s mission statement “A companion for life” emphasizes the firm’s enthusiasm towards it products which are designed for consumer benefit and the improvement of quality of life. Perceived as an innovative pacesetter and an inventor organization, Faber Castell has set goals to keep them in the frontline of setting trends in research intensive areas. Innovation has been one of the core competencies of the firm. It has been the foundation for Faber Castell’s competiveness and growth and presumably will be a major element in the firm’s success in the future. The company’s innovative products are primarily geared towards improving the quality and functionality of the modern lifestyle. Expertise and innovative capability has enabled and facilitated the firm to offer solutions for the protection and sustainability of the earth’s climate and ecology as well as aiding in addressing the implications of climate change.
Sustainable development has been another core competence at Faber Castell. It forms an integral part of the firm’s global cooperate strategies and policies, which are aimed at long term success, growth and development as well as high quality solutions. Faber Castell has claimed and believes in the notion that their ability to take social needs, economic considerations and environmental responsible actions into account or cognizance will ultimately lead to business success in the short run and the long term. The firm claims that its responsibility for humankind as well as the environment extends across all its businesses and geographical sites.
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The Faber Castell sustainability concept aligns successful development in balance with social needs and objectives. The firm in outlining these sustainability concepts says that the basis of its strategy comprises its products and innovations which generate value for the firm and society. Faber Castell’s everyday business dealings and practices with employees, suppliers and customers are aligned and emphasize the firm’s sustainability concept. Its core areas within this context include product stewardship, compliance, responsible human resource policies and sustainable supplier management. In addition to the firm’s foundations and voluntary social activities and initiatives, Faber Castell assumes targeted social responsibility. Faber Castell focuses on issues of stipulated social relevance with a clear link to the firm’s mission and goals. Sustainable development has always been a part of the firm’s core competencies and an integral part of its management processes. With its 1987 program objectives, Faber Castell has set for itself ambitious goals in the areas of innovation, excellence in corporate management, product stewardship, social responsibility and environmental awareness. Faber Castell has expanded its sustainability program to now include “Global Compact” a joint initiative with the United Nations. For the firm, climate protection starts with its own plants and facilities, with the core idea focused on energy supply and optimization of the firm’s production processes.
Faber Castell’s core competencies and strategies are defined by its boards of directors and initiated or implemented by all its global subsidiaries. The Values by which all of the organization’s targets and objectives are actualized and ultimately governed fall in line with its core competencies. The guidelines for these core competence are designed to give the firm a more competitive edge as well as make it a profitable brand in the global drawing, writing and creative design market.
Apart from the notion that the core strength of the Faber Castell industry lies its innovative capabilities and sustainable development concepts, strategies and policies, other forms of core competencies have led to the success and competitive edge the firm enjoys today and is projected to continue to benefit from in the future. These core competencies include:
Tradition and Heritage: Founded in 1761, Faber Castell as a firm in in the hands of the 8th generation successor to the founder of the enterprise (www.fabercastell.com). This makes the firm the oldest manufacturer of writing instruments globally. Many as well as the business perceive this as a core competence because in this tradition and heritage narrative coupled with years of experience, history and family passion, the firm has thrived.
Staff: No business is successful if its workforce does not understand the culture and visions of the company they work for. Faber Castell has continuously pointed to the fact that their staff is a core competence of the firm. “The company’s employees and brand are our most valuable assets” words of Ingo Ritcher, the company’s Chief Financial Officer, validate this notion of staff as a core competence of the firm. Team culture at Faber Castell differs significantly from other businesses and even that of competitors. Staff at Faber Castell are treated as part of the organizations history, they are encouraged and compelled to be innovative and enterprising in thought and action. Staff deal openly with each other in resolving conflicts in a manner that is practical and appropriate in an organization of trust. Staff feel duty bound to the firm’s traditions, its heritage and culture. One of the mottos of the firm is “Doing ordinary things extraordinarily well” has become a driving force within the entire firm. By following through on the tiniest details, Faber Castell is of the notion that such attitude uniquely sets the Faber Castell apart from its competition. Employees are trained to come to the realization that even the most minute of personal gestures goes a long way in initiating great impact. The firms highly trained and motivated employees have always been vital to the sustained growth and success of the company. Faber Castell employees are rewarded with an annual product allowance and discount, allowing them, their families and friends can purchase Faber Castell products, thus making them brand ambassadors.
The Brand: The Faber Castell brand basically is one of the firm’s most significant core competence. The company is focused on a stringent brand management from product design to adequate communication. An unquestionable, unmistakable, timeless design has been a consistent part of the Faber Castell brand design and philosophy. The firm is consistently committed to growing its brand in the most innovative and artistic of ways.
Product: In 1939 Faber Castell produced the very first brand lad pencil in the world and did so with outstanding quality (Anjali, 2010). Pencil manufacturing remains a core area of expertise with the firm as it has been over the years. In concisely illustrated and well defined fields of competence, Faber Castell develops, produces and markets products of excellent quality for drawing, writing, painting and in the use of creative arts as well as decorative cosmetic products. The firm’s product are set on a benchmark deemed to validate the product as the best of its class. Faber Castell’s product innovation mentality doesn’t just pursue innovation for the sake of it, but it emphasizes this product innovation concept as a means for securing the firms future at the same time providing added value for its customers. Faber Castell stimulates creativity via an open networking atmosphere. The company attains synergy through means of interdisciplinary, global creative teams and a long tradition and heritage inculcated in the firms products. It is the company’s objective to also apply its innovative abilities and existing knowledge in new and emerging areas of business. This applies particularly to the Faber Castell Cosmetics and Eberhard Faber Brands.
Globalization: With the opening of Faber Castell’s first branch office in New York in 1849, the firm laid its foundation for global business. Globalization has been one of the core competencies of Faber Castell. Manufacturing in 15 plants, and marketing the company’s products through over 24 sales organizations in over 120 countries cut across all the continents of the world (Faber Castell 2010 -2015 Action Plan). Faber Castel regards the world as its market environment, while taking into consideration the different needs in all regions. The firm’s objective is centered on the varying ways to utilize the opportunities of globalization in further developing the Faber Castell brand. The Faber Castell products on a global scale is perfectly designed to meet the needs of the firm’s customers across the world. The opinions of the firm’s customers on the products has been a focal point of the Faber Castell approach. Faber Castell is poised to increasing customer benefits through the constant improvement of its products and the development of new ones.
Challenges in the Digital Era
The Digital era and the growing use of digital apps have greatly affected the traditional writing instrument market across the globe. With the growing use of digital appliances and software for writing and drawing the use of traditional instruments such as pencils seems to be declining hence a reduction in the demand for such products. The writing instrument market has seen many firms close or completely change their business in light of the threats posed by the emergence of technology and the digital era. Faber Castell has had to initiate several strategies to brace the challenges of the digital era. A thorough evaluation of the firm’s competencies suggest that these competencies or strategies have been a major source of the firm’s ability to not just weather the storm but to critically do extremely well in this time when many are of the opinion that the traditional writing and drawing instruments will be phased out by digital media. By implementing a consistent brand strategy and incorporating such strategies within the firm’s point of difference concept, and it’s clear retail marketing concept, Faber Castell has increased both market share in developed markets and leveraged potential in growth markets. Above all it has survived the brunt of the digital age which most of the firm’s competition could not. Careful evaluation of the firm’s investments also aided the firm to a significant degree in securing its position in the global market. Re-strategizing on the firm’s product line is another factor that has aided in keeping the firm high above the troubled waters of the digital age.
The firm’s “Playing and Learning” product line in its red packaging, has continued to support as well as encourage the child’s natural desire to draw, paint and write. By developing and manufacturing pencils, crayons and paints focused on different developmental stages of learning and skills acquisition and development, the firm has kept a steadily growing demand for this line of products in schools and families with young children. Faber Castell has even taken this product line to the next level by working closely with external child development experts, educators, market researchers and designers who are experts in children products. The underlying result of this partnership has been a diverse and innovative line that offers children and their parents, ergonomic, ecological and pedagogical added value while at the same time meeting the highest of quality and safety standards (www.fabercastell.com).
Faber Castell’s Art and Graphic range of products is not only held in high esteem by professional painters but also by hobbyist. Many belief the superior quality of this product line is responsible for the firm’s success in this digital era. The line combines the best of two hundred and fifty years of experience, culture, tradition and family heritage into the development and manufacture of exclusive artists’ products. This brand has been prized by prominent and eminent personalities from Paul Klee, Neo Rauch, Vincent van Gogh to Karl Largerfeld. The implementation of high quality artists’ pigments not only validates but also guarantees light fastness and thus a color intensity and brilliance in painting that last for decades, aiding artist to create timeless pieces and works of art. This strategic implementation within this product line is further evidence of the move undertaken by Faber Castell in trying to surpass the challenges of the digital age.
The firm’s Premium line of products or what many describe as the “Design” series with its functional language and purist form has in recent times even within this time of the digital era, has become the elementary building block of the Faber Castell range of all products and generally the Faber Castell Brand. The Design series has been strategically structured and aimed at satisfying the needs of demanding consumers, with the products in this line elegantly packed and best suited as gifts or presents. The lines unmistakable visual attribute or feature, from generation to generation has always been wood which symbolizes the firm’s core competence in innovation and quality. Borrowing inspiration and creative insights from its heritage, Faber Castell takes delight in rediscovering products from the past and recreating them with timeless designs and modern technology. The ideas of the rediscovery process resulted in the Graf von Faber Castell collection which has become the core product of the range, complementing the refined writing instruments manufactured from precious wood and the elegant desktop and leather accessories is what has come to be known today as the “Perfect Pencil.” The firm over the years has through the use of its rich tradition and heritage employed the use of narrative in driving home the uniqueness of its product. This has aided in making the company successful even in times of market uncertainties.
The Faber Castell’s general writing field of competence that has in the face of challenges due to the digital era been strategically used in complementing the modern office or study in the form of functional writing components for note taking, correction of texts and sketching. Besides the lines technical quality and eloquent attractive design, Faber Castell equally has implemented strategic notions focusing on the intelligent additional benefits and value for its consumers. For instance the non-slip grip of its “GRIP 2001” pencils. The uniqueness and innovative acumen of the firm is one of the reasons the firm is ahead in many markets (www. Fabercastell.com). Furthermore, the logical extension of the company’s market position and ability to surpass the challenges ushered in by the digital era could also be linked to the Faber Castell “Marking” sector of competence which is mostly pillared by a wide range of products. The brand’s MULTIMARK pens write with uttermost reliability on compact disks, overhead transparencies, plastic document sleeves, glass, aluminum and even wood. The MULTIMARK pens come with built in erasers that can be used to make corrections on any of the above stated materials. Such innovative products are rare in the writing instruments manufacturing market thus validating the unique strategy and innovative capability of Faber Castell which has kept them in the fore front of their industry. The colorful Text liner highlighters keep going for long distances and can be easily refilled with environmentally friendly water based ink. Faber Castell’s new GRIP MAKER range offers the beat of unique designs, ergonomics and environmental thinking. The ergonomic triangular shape permits customers to work for extended periods of time without the implication of fatigue while the products grip zone with raised dots ensures a secure hold as well as grip.
In my opinion, comprehensive knowledge of its products is the core competency of the Faber Castell organization. One of the strategies employed in addressing the threats of the digital era is the fact that the firm has taken the same technology that poses a threat to the sustainability of the writing instrument market and used it to add innovation strategically to its products. That helped to increase the benefits of using such products. The undeniable beauty associated with each product has seen to it that customer loyalty is consistent.
Furthermore, the firm’s continued commitment to evaluating packaging solutions which are fit for purpose as well as designed to minimize and address the effects of packaging on the environment thus maximizing the potential for resource recovery. The firm knows and values the essence of and significance of packaging. It is the core branding strategy of any business as it ensures the safety and security of the firm’s products as well as its ability to pass information to customers (Anjali, 2010). The company in further addressing the challenges it faces in the digital age have implemented procedures for reviews in new products and new strategies. The firm’s dedicated APC team is consistently evaluating existing systems and processes on an ongoing basis to aid the development of a baseline for action plan indicators as well as to identify any gaps that might exist in its sustainability plans in the wake of the challenges it faces. All the above mention strategies geared towards branding, products and the firm’s sustainability concepts have been responsible for the Faber Castells growth and success even in the era of digital technology (The Economist, 2010).
- A.W Faber Castell PTY LTD. 2010-2015 Action Plan. Australian Packaging Covenant (APC).
- Anjali Khurana. (2010). Marketing Strategy of Faber Castell. Retrieved from http://www.managementparadise.com/forums/marketing-management/209373-marketing-strategy-faber-castell.html May 18, 2014.
- The Economist. (2010). The Future of the Pencil: An eight-generation family firm shows how innovation need never stops. Retrieved from http://www.economist.com/node/17043890 May 18, 2014.
- http://www.fabercastell.com/ Official Website.
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