How Sakura of America fuels consumer-led innovation with Momentive


How Sakura of America fuels consumer-led innovation with Momentive

Learn how Sakura of America uses Momentive to test concepts, optimise pricing and gain deep insights into its target market.

Jen Anderson

29 March 2022 | 3-min read


For 100 years, Sakura has been guided by the belief that everyone is capable of creativity. The company is committed to providing people with safe, reliable archival-quality writing instruments and art materials, including Gelly Roll, the original gel pen. 

Much of the company’s research and development takes place in Japan, where Sakura was founded. Consumer preferences in Japan, however, can differ markedly from those in other parts of the world, including those served by its North American affiliate, Sakura of America. 

Casey Roberts is working to bridge that gap. The senior marketing manager of innovation and consumer insights at Sakura of America, Roberts is helping the company put consumers at the heart of its North American product development. With aggressive targets for growth, she wants to ensure that Sakura of America is focusing its efforts on things that will have traction with the rapidly evolving market. 

Gaining a deeper understanding of evolving customers

Roberts had used Momentive solutions in the past, so its market research solutions were a natural choice to move Sakura towards consumer-led innovation. The company had seen significant success in the past by focusing on R&D, so Roberts knew she needed some quick wins to convince people throughout the organisation that an investment in consumer insights would pay off.  

She began with concept testing – testing ideas with customer segments to gain valuable insights into product positioning, market size and more. Momentive allowed her to very quickly gain feedback directly from target customers.

Roberts then expanded her team’s use of Momentive to gain a deeper understanding of the market. Sakura built its brand around artists, but as it eyed more mainstream opportunities, including big box retail, it needed to broaden its market knowledge. Many consumers, Sakura discovered, view pens strictly as writing tools and aren't necessarily pursuing artistic endeavours. This insight helped Sakura fine-tune its consumer-oriented approach and become more strategic about how it expanded its market reach.

Momentive also enabled Roberts’ team to test price points for new products and to not only adjust pricing, but also shape R&D initiatives. In one instance, insights into consumers’ willingness to pay even helped inform product development for UV glowing gel ink. 

“Momentive allows us to take the emotion out of a decision. Instead of just saying, ‘No, we don't think it would work in our market,’ we can now say ‘No, here's why this would not work in our market, and here's the data behind it.’”

Casey Roberts

Senior marketing manager of innovation and consumer insights,
Sakura of America

Aligning around data-driven decisions

Momentive gives Roberts the objective data needed to drive decisions within Sakura of America, as well as the larger organisation as a whole. In one case, it gave her the unbiased information she needed to back up her gut feeling that a $100 (approx. £88) pen would be viewed as too expensive by U.S. consumers. Objective data has also enabled Sakura of America to set and measure performance targets more effectively. 

“No matter what stage your company is at, there is value that this platform can add,” Roberts said. “If you care about the consumer as your North Star – your No. 1 – Momentive will only yield positive things. For me in particular, it has allowed me to get insights and data that we didn't have access to before. It’s allowing me to craft stories and communication and get people in this fragmented company all over the world on board and marching to the same drumbeat. That is invaluable.”

Jen Anderson is director of customer marketing at Momentive.

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