The trajectory of EOS lip balm

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How did EOS enter an oversaturated personal care market and become the lip balm of choice for the millennial generation?

Here’s the story of the company’s rapid trajectory on fastcompany.com –The Untold Story of How Lip Balm Upstart EOS Outdid Chapstick.

Backstory
First came Chapstick. 50+ years ago. In a stick, with a list of active ingredients on the package. In flavors original, cherry or mint. Then just seven years ago, EOS arrived. It’s pastel-colored orbs of lip balm began to pop up everywhere. On drug store shelves, in the hands of beauty editors and in the makeup bags of celebs like Miley Cyrus and Christina Aquilera.

Fast Forward
“Fast” being a very accurate take on EOS (short for Evolution of Smooth). Because it’s now a $250 million company and the second best-selling lip balm in the country, after Burt’s Bees. And given that EOS’s sweet spot is natural and organic, the future looks bright.

In a rare interview, the co-founders told Fast Company about their business strategy. Here are some of the highlights, bucketed based on the characteristics that we at Trajectory believe drive brand momentum:

Target-centric. With in-depth research, they found that lip balm was overwhelmingly used by women, as part of their beauty regime. But they didn’t find applying it fun or enjoyable. They solved this by designing everyday products that also deliver moments of delight that elevate these daily routines.

Differentiation. Which started by rethinking the tube: since the majority of products on the market were indistinguishable from their 100-year old predecessors.

Symbolism. EOS created its own emotional shorthand by engaging all five senses, from soft round packaging that felt good in the hands, to the colors of the orbs, to the smells, to the way the flavors tasted, and even to the clicking sound the sphere makes when it closes.

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Emotional Pull. Throughout it all, they wanted to focus on creating an emotional connection with the user (in this case, millennial women 25-35), rather than being simply another commodity. They picked the tagline, “The lip balm that makes you smile.”

Authenticity. EOS became experts at influencer marketing, which they believed was a smart way to reach their demographic. They contacted beauty bloggers who reviewed the product and talked about it on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. They worked with millennial celebrities to get the word through product placements and endorsements. EOS appeared in Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears music videos, was a headline sponsor for Demi Lovato’s world tour, and Taylor Swift became its Asian spokesperson.

Tribe. EOS has also worked to build a large social media presence. It now has more than 1.8 million followers on Instagram and nearly 7 million followers on Facebook. A photograph of a new EOS flavor can get over 40,000 likes.

Dynamism. For all this success, the company works hard at innovation. It comes up with new collections regularly, so that there is a constant stream of new products on shelves. EOS is also creating shaving creams and hand lotions, and plans to enter new categories in the future. It also partners with other major players, like collaborating with Keds to produce an EOS shoe that came with a matching lip balm.

EOS created a surprise effect in a category that probably didn’t expect such a brand to shake things up. This unexpectedness, in terms of both the stretch itself and the product design and features, created a “wow” factor that continues to propel the brand and business forward.

Eric Brody

Eric Brody is President of Trajectory, a brand and marketing firm specializing in creating momentum for businesses across the health + wellness continuum. The common threads are consumers who want to get well, stay well and play well, and brands that fulfill these aspirations and goals.

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