German Schwan-Stabilo has managed to score a worldwide Christmas hit with its pastel-coloured markers. It was a Belgian idea that saved the German manufacturer.
There is a new trend among teenagers: a range of markers with softer hues than the well-known and rather loud yellow, green, blue, pink and orange fluorescent markers. According to German business paper Handelsblatt, the idea came from Rodolphe Barbier, CEO of the Belgian branch of Schwan-Stabilo.
What started out as a gimmick quickly went viral and grew into a real hype after a simple social media post. On Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, Stabilo now has over 4.2 million followers/fans. Sales skyrocketed soon after, so much so that the Weissenburg (Bavaria) factory had to double its capacity to be able to keep up with the worldwide demand. As a result, the writing tools department – which had been riding the coattails of the success of colouring books for adults in the past few years – saw its annual turnover grow by 5 % to reach 193.4 million euros.
The record-breaking turnover in the writing tools department was not enough to keep the German family company from seeing its turnover go down for the first time in years: the group ended the year at 685.4 million euros, which amounts to a 4 % drop. The cosmetics department has been particularly hurt: despite manufacturing a wide range of eye pencils, eyeliners and lipsticks for various make-up brands, turnover went down by 12 % to 322.4 million euros. Outdoor – the smallest division, containing the brands Ortovox, Deuter, Maier Sports and Gonso – generated the remaining 169.3 million euros, a 3.1% increase.