BIC CEO details $400 million market for temporary tattoos

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BIC CEO Gonzalve Bich joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the stationery maker entering the temporary tattoo and skincare markets, collaborations with artists and celebrities, and the value of the tattoo space temporary.

Video transcript

EMILY McCORMICK: Happy to see you again. You are probably familiar with BIC pens, stationery and lighters. But now the company is expanding into a new product line. BIC has just acquired Inkbox, the semi-permanent tattoo brand, for $65 million. BIC CEO Gonzalve Bich joins us now. Thank you very much for your time. Tell us a bit more about this acquisition. Because for a lot of people, and I think I’m included, when I think of BIC, I think of your office products. Why get into skincare? And why semi-permanent tattoos like space entry?

GONZALVE BICH: Thanks for inviting me, Emily. I mean, we’ve provided consumers, billions of consumers around the world for over 75 years, with a way to express themselves. And so with the acquisition of Inkbox today and entering the semi-permanent tattoo space, we’re doing exactly that again but in a new, dynamic, fun and very youthful way. People have been tattooing themselves for thousands of years, and so all over the world in all cultures.

But it was final. And so that choice was forever. Tyler and Braden, the founders of Inkbox, this Canadian startup, have created a very good way to commit to an idea for 10 to 14 days. We had created a mark called Body Mark that lasted one to three days. Here we are a little further in our [INAUDIBLE] creative idea. BIC has always favored high quality products. And it’s very safe on the skin – you’ll see I made one this morning. And you see it going right into your skin. He will stay there for 10 days. So today, I’ve chosen a geographical motif for… in two weeks, I may do something else.

We are entering this field as a second step with this acquisition, which allows us to develop on a global scale and to really make BIC young and geared towards consumer use.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Help us understand too, because for some of us, our association with BIC is, as Emily said, the stationery side. But you are global. Headquarters in Paris. Obviously, you are exposed to globally fashionable and luxurious. Where is it, do you think…. I realize that the business you are acquiring is in Toronto. So this kind of skin art, and I love that it washes off after a while, is it more popular in North America, South America? Is it global? Is it European? Where will the big game come from?

GONZALVE BICH: So today the non-permanent tattoo industry is worth around $400 million. Inkbox sales are 2/3 in North America, a third in the rest of the world. It all started in Canada. It is a North American company. From now on, by partnering with us, we will be able to develop our global scale. We have operations in Latin America, Africa, Western and Eastern Europe and much more. So part of the synergies that we will create is to stimulate international expansion, to increase the different uses of consumers.

And you mentioned fashion. And Inkbox is absolutely part of that. We have collaborations with artists like Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, K-pop stars BTS and many more. There are 10,000 tattoos available in the catalog today. And if you can’t find what you want in the catalog, we have a custom engine that lets you do what you want.

You draw, you tattoo yourself for two weeks. And it’s a great way to get into space. 145 million Americans already have a tattoo. But these are permanent. And we think there’s tremendous capacity to expand, to be able to go into that semi-permanent space a little bit further than we did with Body Mark. So it’s a combination.

EMILY McCORMICK: I want to switch gears for a moment and ask your core business of school and office supplies, what have you seen in terms of the impact of remote working and virtual learning on the demand for your products?

The last two years have been rich in learning. 2020 was all up and down. People weren’t going to go back to school, weren’t going to go back to school, remote work, remote learning. And so we all had to adapt and make do. And that has moved a lot of shopping online. But you still had big, semi-big, back to school. The good news is that in 2021, people went back to the stores, back to school was in full swing. And we’ve seen growth, high single-digit and double-digit market growth around the world, which is really important for the future of the industry.

What has fundamentally changed is the way people use products and connect with brands. And it is partly for this reason that we acquire Inkbox. It is young and has a very young core, female biased population which is a perfect complement to BIC.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Maybe it’s a bit of an exaggeration here, but I think back to…my mom used to smoke. 1000 years ago, she gave up. But had the BIC lighter. Might there be a day when she can make it herself lighter with the kind of – we’re talking skin art right now but maybe use it to put on a lighter if you’re someone who uses a lighter?

GONZALVE BICH: Well thanks for the catch, Adam, because that day is today. You go to designmybic.com and you can upload any image as long as you have the copyright and it’s an OK image. And we will send these lighters to you. Now, as you also show, we have some pretty cool artists collaborating with us. And last year we did one with Snoop and Martha. And it worked incredibly well. And we’re really excited about that in 22 and the new TV commercials that they might shoot with us.

EMILY McCORMICK: Very well. Gonzalve Bich, CEO of BIC, thank you very much.

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