The significant challenge for consumer goods companies in anticipating and managing mercurial consumer behaviour was well demonstrated in the profits warning announced this week in Paris by le groupe Bic.
Bic, known in France as the Roi du Quatre Couleurs was caught out by challenges in each of its three core businesses, specifically low cost competition in the stationary market, shifting shaving preferences in male personal care and reduced tobacco smoking. These factors have combined to dent sales of its familiar but dangerously off-trend disposable plastic stuff. Innovations announced by the group like utility firelighters for the barbecue and a ‘connected’ razor feel a little predictable and frankly partial.
The real challenge facing Bic is to re-invent the brand and business and to find some substantive growth markets which can be the modern manifestations of Bic’s wonderful track record in creativity and consumer connection.