Japanese pen company Zebra Co. Ltd has a pen with a stainless steel body, the kind of build-quality in a pen that other manufacturers usually charge a lot more money for. The pen is bought to be modified by consumers; they replace the ink cartridge with a Fisher Pen cartridge that allows the pen to work whilst facing upwards. Consumers seek out the Zebra F402 pen set to remove the metal clicker by taking advantage of the difference in expansion rates between plastic and metal. Cooling the pen in a freezer and then heating up the clicker with a cigarette lighter.
This is particularly popular with consumers who talk about ‘tactical pens’ (think about the fight sequence in Gross Point Blank)
This learning process has been accelerated as consumers share their know-how online. They are so proud of their hybrid pens that they write how-to blog posts and make videos of them. They’ve created a trove of consumer research and product development for Zebra to tap into just by spending a little bit of time with the search engine of their choice.