by David, United States
A candle lights up nice with a â€œBic Clickâ€ disposable lighter, and a â€œBic Stickâ€ disposable pen willÂ produce a nice reliable stream of ink for whatever one would want to writeâ€¦ but â€œBic Pantyhoseâ€?
Well you could say that they threw the party but no one came. There were several snags in the ideaÂ from the very start.
The 1976 press release announcing the new pantyhose line advised that Bicâ€™s managers believed mostÂ pantyhose buyers were working women, not stay at home housewives. So they decided they wouldÂ market the cheap disposable pantyhose line with the familiar yellow and black â€œBicâ€ logo in office andÂ stationery supply stores onlyâ€¦ and advertise in trade and industry publications like â€œTodayâ€™s Secretaryâ€.
This sounded kind of sterile and unimaginative to meâ€¦ not sexy or romantic. If I wore pantyhose,Â I would want to see my brand on attractive models in fashion magazines, or right here at FantasyÂ Stockings, where I could also find ideas for outfits and accessories that might complement my legs â€¦ notÂ in an office trade magazine, stuck in between ads for staplers and liquid paper.
When I read the release, I caught a slight aroma of chauvinism. It almost smelled like butaneâ€¦ BicÂ Perfume? They even tried that!
I could picture the â€œboysâ€ in the Bic executive suite lighting theirÂ disposable cigars and saying, â€œThatâ€™s it! The â€œgirlsâ€ can pick up a few pair of our pantyhose at the officeÂ store while their bosses are out on the golf course!â€ This, at a time when women as a social groupÂ were moving up higher in the executive suite and trying to earn their way out of stereotypes like beingÂ subservient to their male counterparts. They wanted to be respected on the golf course, not panderedÂ to in the office supply store.
Ultimately the brand failed because the product was not a logical extension from Bicâ€™s existingÂ successful products. Consumers couldnâ€™t make the mental or emotional connection between throwÂ away pens and lighters, and womenâ€™s pantyhose. Additionally, the pantyhose line didnâ€™t mesh with theÂ manufacturing and distribution capabilities which Bic had mastered; the Bic managers werenâ€™t stickingÂ to what they knew. With pantyhose they were trying on something outside of their niche.
Herbert Jack Rotfeld, Department of Marketing, Auburn University, summed up Bicâ€™s big goof this way:
â€œAs a broader lesson, this is an example of a company that was more focused on the name than whatÂ the name means. In these days of product placement and viral marketing, companies of all typesÂ focus on brand awareness and an extensive effort to put their name out there (wherever â€œout thereâ€Â might be). But it is not just having a name that is important, but the image that the name conveys toÂ consumers.â€ â€“ Journal of Product and Brand Management, 2008