He celebrated his 53rd birthday and young teenagers are snapping it up: the Bic 4-color pen enjoys great popularity in schoolyards. So much so that the directors of establishments are sometimes obliged to crack down and outright ban it, because of trafficking, as reported our colleagues from Progress.
“For some time now, 4-color pens have been stolen, resold at a profit, sometimes even to their original owner. This is qualified as theft, concealment and illicit sale, aggravated facts because they take place inside or near a school establishment ”wrote the management of the Charles-de-Gaulle college in Saint-Pierre-de-Chandieu ( Rhône) in an email addressed to the parents of pupils.
Created in 1970, the Bic 4-color pen has therefore become a source of desire and discussion among college students, a trendy object. To be convinced, a simple glance on the social networks is enough. On TikTok, the “4colours77” page is entirely dedicated to these multicolored pens and has more than 34,000 subscribers. Presentation of his most beautiful parts, repair tutorial, customization tutorial or “top 4 most stolen colors”: for more than a year, this enthusiast has published dozens of videos. The most viewed even reached 1.7 million views.
The range is expanding… and sales are soaring
So how can this growing popularity be explained? “It’s true that this may seem surprising for a product that is already more than 50 years old,” confesses Astrid Canevert, Bic’s European communications director. According to her, the success of this pen first found its source in the reliability and ingenuity of the product which, as its name suggests, makes it possible to have four pens in one.
Between its creation and 2010, there were only two models of 4-color pen: the classic blue version and the coral model. But for its 40th anniversary, the French brand decided for the first time to allow itself a fantasy by marketing an apple green model with a pastel heart. The success is immediate. “The fact that this model sold well gave us the idea of creating others to suit all tastes,” recalls Astrid Canevert.
“Today we have about fifty models that come out each year, special editions, different colors, solidarity editions or special Valentine’s Day editions” adds the communications director. Well took them. Boosted by the expansion of the product range, sales soared. In 2021, the Bic brand sold no less than 25 million 4-color pens in France, representing growth of 50% in five years. “We’ve always sold them, but it’s true that with the colors that came out recently, it amplifies the phenomenon” testifies a stationery manager angry BFM TV.
Victim of his own success ?
The success is such that groups of exchanges are formed by the followers on Internet. “It’s true that there is a collection phenomenon,” admits Astrid Canevert. “There are some that can be found in stores, but there are also personalized products that we make for certain events or for brands and which are not available for sale but only by exchange” the representative of the French brand which produces 240,000 pens every day in a factory in Marne-la-Vallée (Seine-Saint-Denis).
It is this diversification that attracts young people who enjoy wearing pens in class. Animal Crossing or Super Mario. “Three years ago, my fifth-grade daughter had a limited-edition velvet pen in her pencil case. He was robbed during recess. We bought a second, different one. Rebelote”, testifies Florence in Progress. “Since then, she has kept them at home! And goes to college today with classic blue Bics. This avoids problems, but it’s a shame to have to deprive them of cool accessories to avoid jealousy and theft,” she adds.
“Obviously these are things that we regret, we don’t want young people to fight for pens” defends the brand. While it recognizes the effect of unique models and the collection aspect, it also argues that the quality of the products, the “Made in France” aspect or the possibility of refilling the ink also contribute to the success of these pens in the ” click” recognizable. Qualities in tune with the times.
Aware of the power of its product and even its iconic appearance, the Bic company even recently teamed up with the French artist Richard Orlinski and the Maison de joaillerie Tournaire to create a special collection. These high-end pens in yellow gold-plated bronze, white palladium-plated bronze and rose gold-plated bronze, unique and limited to 999 copies, are available for the tidy sum of 390 euros. A gold version at 11,000 euros also exists, as well as an 18-carat gold model set with 202 diamonds, produced in only eight copies, displayed at a price of… 24,500 euros.