In-house innovation, millennial marketing drive EOS success

Now poised as the prime threat to the market dominance of Burt’s Bees, lip balm manufacturer EOS (the name stands for “Evolution of Smooth”) has come from its origins as a fledgling startup to become a $250 million titan and producer of the second-largest lip balm in the U.S. The company’s skyrocketing sales are so influential that Klime Research asserts EOS lip balm to be the sole driver for growth in the oral care market.

In an interview by fast Company, EOS’s founders credit the company’s success to its knack for innovation. While most contenders in the lip-balm market were content to mimic Chapstick’s traditional lip balm at a lower cost and quality, EOS opted to create a product tailored to the needs of its female consumers. In market research, EOS discovered that many prospective customers preferred the idea of round pots of lip balm, finding tubes easy to lose in handbags. Existing lip balm pots, though, required applying the balm with one’s fingers, which many customers found unhygienic. EOS responded by hiring a clay sculptor to design a new take on packaging that retained the appealing round pot like shape but applied the balm using the base in a familiar lipstick-like manner.

Giving the stranglehold industry giants had on the lip balm market, getting EOS balm onto stores shelves wasn’t easy, but a favorable meeting with a Walgreens buyer proved to be EOS’s big break. As with its in-house approach to package design, EOS insisted on creating its own tailored production facilities instead of contracting with a third-party manufacturer—a decision that allowed EOS to expand quickly to Ulta and compete against the leading lip balm firms. By recruiting millennial celebrities and beauty bloggers to create buzz and retaining a strong social media presence, EOS established itself in seven short years as a household name.

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