For decades, Bic's famous “four colours” biro was one of the most sought after and coveted additions to school kits. Now, it is enjoying a resurgence in popularity with a new generation of students.
Such is the demand for this particular style of Bic pens in schools, which can change colour with just one click, that there have been reports of thefts in French-speaking schools, according to reports from RTBF.
The clamour for the pens has been so extreme in some French schools, that bans have been put in place to calm the excitement on campuses.
While most thefts are done as jokes and the pens are returned soon after, in other cases the pens have been stolen to satisfy a growing black market on which they get sold.
The iconic Bic “four colour” was invented by the French family-owned company in the 1970's. It originally came in the classic colour scheme of white and blue but now its collectability is soaring due to the availability of limited editions in various colours.
There are even online tutorials being published where students show how to customise the pens.
Experimenting with designs
Bic has not missed this trend either and has tapped into the nostalgia market by aiming expensive and exclusive versions at adults who grew up using the pens during their own school days.
When the company released its three bronze models at €390 each, and even a gold version with more than 200 diamonds for €24,500, it had a clear vision of its target market.
"There are gold ones, metallic ones, others are made of wood, with small designs on them or with the symbol of the Belgian Red Devils on them,” said Amy Delabre, manager of a stationery store in Mouscron.
“These are often models that change every year. We put them forward near the cash registers. Inevitably people discover them and let themselves be seduced."
The current resurgence can be traced back to 2010 when Bic started to experiment with the classic design. The company started with variation on the existing coloured inks and at every turn experienced success.
Since then, every year, Bic releases about twenty new models and has thus made the “four colour” the best-selling pen in France. It ships out about 200, 000 pens a day from its manufacturing plant.