CASSIES Gold: EOS reinvents lip balm

The indie brand storms the U.S. lip balm category to deliver outstanding results.
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GOLD: Canadian Success Outside Canada • Sustained Success

Situation Analysis The U.S. lip balm category is worth $400 million annually. The top four brands have a combined 65% share and about 200 other brands have less than 1%. In 2008, Nivea entered the category, spending $30 million to achieve a 6.3% share. As an independent start-up, Evolution of Smooth only had $2.5 million in the budget. But when EOS launched in August 2009 it set market share goals high: 2% in 6 months, 4% after one year and 6% after two years.

Strategy & Insight Lip balm advertising at the time was a sea of sameness, rooted in function and ingredients. The top brands (Chapstick, Blistex and Carmex) were essentially unisex offerings. And even the brands that skewed towards women (Nivea and Softlips) presented themselves functionally. There’s some justification for this, given that studies show women tend to prioritize a functional “to do” list over things that bring pleasure. But what if function and pleasure could be intertwined? Especially for women drawn to what is stylish.

Execution With its spherical shape, EOS looks utterly unlike typical lip balms, lending itself to ads in select fashion and beauty magazines. The ads showed EOS Smooth Spheres in artistic situations reminiscent of everyday life – in place of melons or tulips. Women were invited to try EOS via an EOSphere sampling program and PR enlisted the beauty press to portray the product as a must-have accessory.

Results The six-month share of 2.5% beat the initial objective, as did the full-year share of 5.6%. In its second year the brand captured 11.4% of the U.S. market, almost double the original 6% objective.

Cause & Effect Research on the print campaign shows it exceeded norms across key measures. Google said the phrase “EOS lip balm” was the most searched term relating to lip balm – and fans of the Facebook page grew from 50 at launch to more than 500,000. The distinct product design certainly played a role, but it seems unlikely design alone could cause such a stir.

Credits:

Client: EOS Products
VP Marketing: Sherry Jhawar
Managing partners: Jonathan Teller, Sanjiv Mehra
Brand manager: Alliah Agostini
Agency: Juniper Park
ECDs, partners: Alan Madill, Barry Quinn, Terry Drummond
President, partner: Jill Nykoliation
Group account director: Shelly-Ann Scott
Account supervisors: Chris Marrone, Brittany Gold
Copywriter: Laurent Abesdris
ADs: Derek Blais, Ryan Teixeira
Designer: Chelen Hilmi
Producers: Hanna Bratt, Terry Wykurz, Mark Prole