In 1945, a French entrepreneur named Marcel Bich decided to start his own business. He has a simple idea: to make a pen that is both affordable and easy to use. This is the beginning of the BIC brand. Over the years, BIC has become one of the most famous pen brands in the world. BIC not only manufactures pens, but also razors, lighters and multiple stationery items. Since the 1980s, the BIC group has also diversified its activity by manufacturing equipment dedicated to water sports, such as windsurfing boards and paddleboards. Today, BIC brand products are marketed in more than 160 countries! In this article, we are going to take a closer look at the history of the BIC brand, its evolution, while taking a look at some of its most popular products.
The beginnings of the BIC brand
In 1945, Marcel Bich became CEO of the PPA company (penholders, mechanical pencils and accessories) based in Clichy and specializing in the manufacture of spare parts for fountain pens and mechanical pencils. After buying the patent for the ballpoint pen, Marcel Bich launched the first ballpoint pen marketed under the name “BIC crystal” on the market in 1950. Since its creation, the “BIC Cristal” pen has sold more than 100 billion copies worldwide and it remains to this day the best-selling pen on the planet. In 1953, Marcel Bich and Edouard Buffard, his production manager at the time, created a company under the name of BIC, a brand oriented around an easily identifiable name in all languages, a logo and a Orange color. The international development of the company intensified from 1954 with Italy, in 1956 in Brazil with the launch of its retractable tip model the M-10 pen, in 1957 in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Scandinavia. In 1958, BIC bought the Waterman Pen Company brand to develop on the American market, while continuing its development on the African continent and in the Middle East.
The evolution of the brand
BIC launched a new range of fine point pens in 1961 and a luxury range made up of 3 pens (chrome, luxury and grand luxury) which proved to be a failure with the general public. In 1969, an advertising marking activity was developed in the United States and the year 1970 coincided with the arrival of the famous 4-color BIC pen. In full expansion, BIC acquires the Conté company, which specializes in graphite pencils (pencils) and technical drawings. BIC also took a turn in the early 1980s by creating its subsidiary BIC Sport for the manufacture of windsurf boards. In 1985, BIC marketed the famous BIC mini lighter and its electronic lighter in 1991. In 1992, BIC acquired an American brand specializing in correction products (products based on white and opaque fluid used to correct mistakes on a written document). The “Conté Evolution” woodless pencil made its appearance in 1993 and the year 1994 marked the arrival of the famous disposable razors for men and women. BIC graphite Europe was created in 1996 to expand its market to Eastern Europe. In 1997, BIC acquired Tipp-ex, the European leader in correction products, as well as Sheaffer, a company specializing in the marketing of high-end fountain pens. In 1998, the BIC mini tronic lighter was launched on the market, and the following year, the soft win shaver with a pivoting head was launched.
The development of the BIC brand in the 2000s
In 2002, the BIC group continued its expansion and launched its range of BIC Sport rigid and inflatable kayaks. In 2003, 3-blade razors for men appeared and in 2006, BIC acquired Pimaco, a Brazilian company specializing in the manufacture and distribution of adhesive labels. In 2008, the group directs its growth by marketing the BIC phone, a mobile phone distributed in partnership with Orange. In 2016, BIC launched its 3-color ink pencil and a fluorescent yellow highlighter. In 2020, the COVID pandemic and the closure of schools and businesses during confinement have had a strong impact on the BIC group, which has seen its turnover drop by nearly 20%. But in 2021, and following the increase in sales of bricks in the United States, the BIC group’s share price rises on the stock market and thus allows the group to continue to develop its activity with more serenity.
List of products marketed by BIC
- Stationery : ballpoint pens, rollerball pens, felt pens, mechanical pencils, highlighters, markers, graphite pencils, colored pencils, glue, fountain pens.
- Lighters : mini lighter, slim lighter, decorated brick, disposable lighter.
- Razors : single-blade disposable razors, bi-blade razors, pivoting or fixed head razors, 3-blade and 4-blade razors, for men and women.
- The BIC Phone : non-disposable mobile phone with a 1 hour package for €49/month.
- BIC Sport items : windsurf boards, surfboards, kayaks, paddleboards. BIG Sport was sold in 2019 to a company located in Estonia.
The BIC brand in a few figures
- BIC is the world leader in pocket lighters.
- BIC is number 2 worldwide in stationery and disposable razors.
- 32 million BIC products are sold every day worldwide (20 million in stationery, 7.5 million in razors and 4.5 million in lighters).
- The turnover of the BIC group amounts to 2 billion euros in 2019.
- The group employs nearly 15,000 people worldwide (2017).
- With 26 factories around the world, the brand is present in 160 countries.
- A BIC pen is sold every 3 seconds around the world!
- The brand is 45% owned by the Bich family and 55% by shareholders.
Looking for a black or red marker? A customizable 4-color pen? A quality product for writing? Go to the brand’s website www.fr.bic.com/fr. All their prices can be consulted and all the products are on sale on the online store of the website.