A world leader in stationery, lighters and shavers, BIC has become one of the most recognised brands and is a trademark registered worldwide. 

Today, BIC products are sold in more than 160 countries around the world and feature iconic brands such as BIC Kids™, BIC FlexTM, BodyMark by BICTM, Cello®, Djeep, Lucky Stationery, Rocketbook, Soleil®, Tipp-Ex®, Us. TM, Wite-Out® and more. 

In 2020, BIC Net Sales were 1,627.9 million euros. The Company is listed on “Euronext Paris,” is part of the SBF120 and CAC Mid 60 indexes and is recognized for its commitment to sustainable development and education. It received an A- Leadership score from CDP. 

Kutlwano Tshetlhane currently holds the position of Marketing Manager at BIC and oversees the stationery portfolio across Southern Africa. As a mother, and a professional who is connected through her work to the education field, Kutlwano is passionate about the sector and aspires to see the South African education system amongst the highest rankings in the world. 

Through her work with BIC, Kutlwano has managed projects that aimed to identify challenges amongst educators in South Africa and proposed solutions through innovative concepts. The teacher’s campaign and the Facebook group launched earlier this year was a testament to that. 

Here, we get to know more about the marketing powerhouse.

Kutlwano, tell us about yourself, your background and what drew you into the stationery industry? 

AP: I am a spirited marketer with experience in international and local brands. My career spans 6 categories and over 10 brands. 

I have always been drawn to stationery and education because my mother is a retired teacher, so all things school related have always been happily familiar to me. 

What do you most enjoy about working for one of the most recognized brands worldwide? 

AP: The privilege of working on a big brand, means that I get the opportunity to be part of a brand that has a larger overall purpose. 

The benefit of working on a brand with strong equity means having a loyal customer base to direct our communication to. 

What is your guiding principle in life and how does it factor into your role as a valuable brand custodian? 

AP: My guiding principle in life is that change is constant and it is not something that should be resisted or feared. 

I understand that because the environment is always changing, consumers are always changing, so brands need to be cognisant of that and make necessary changes without fear. 

Tell us about BIC’s Buy a Pen, Donate a Pen initiative. How successful has the campaign been to date? Any other exciting campaigns in the works? 

AP: The process of learning is hindered in the absence of stationery. Education is very important to BIC, so we took the decision to make a difference by donating stationery to under-resourced students. 

For every specially marked stationery pack purchased, a pen will be donated to a student in need. We’re excited to announce that since the initiative began, we have donated over 13 million pens to students who need it the most. 

Yes, we have some great campaigns on the way, where we will be bringing colouring to tomorrow 

Would you say the developments in technology have affected the traditional stationery business? If so, how? 

AP: Technology has not replaced the use of stationery, as students are still making use of traditional stationery. 

 Students are making more use device in class, but these are not replacing the use of stationery, students are using technology in conjunction with their stationery.

What major trends do you predict will come to the fore in the stationery market in 2022? 

AP: I think consumers will continue to seek value propositions in 2022. We will see a greater demand for products such as gifts with purchases, mixed writing instrument packs, 4 colour pens etc. 

If you were mentoring a younger you, what advice would you give yourself as an aspiring young business professional? 

AP: I would tell myself to have a clear vision of what I want to achieve in my career and align myself with people who can help me to get there.

I would also tell myself that I am the one responsible for maintaining my own work life balance.

By Jessi Wesson