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EOS: The Startup Lip Balm that Outslells Chapstick

For years, the lip balm market was dominated by just a few brands, which had all been around, unchanged and unchallenged, for decades. Then, seven years ago, EOS (Evolution of Smooth) lip balm started to appear on shelves in Walgreens and other stores. The brand became the choice of younger users and swiftly took off. Today, it actually outsells industry giant Chapstick.

EOS lip balm was developed and marketed by a team that included players from both the corporate and startup worlds. As they explained in an interview with Fast Company, the team realized that, while women were buying lip balm more than men do, they didn’t especially care for the products they were purchasing and had little brand loyalty.

Buyers of Chapstick and other major brands disliked the clinical taste and feel of the lip balm products they used and viewed their use as being largely medicinal. Furthermore, tubes of lip balm often got lost in purses, and dipping fingers in pots of lip balm was seen by many women as being a bit gross.

Accordingly, EOS, produced a product in an eye-catching sphere shape that glides onto the lips sensually. A lot of care went into its development; even the sound of the sphere being closed is meant to be pleasing to the senses. Walgreens was the first major chain to put the product on its shelves, and other stores followed. Eventually, Sephora even produced their own knock-off lip balm.

It helped that celebrities like Taylor Swift got behind EOS, but the brand’s success is due to much more than a few famous people endorsing it. A combination of research, clever and creative product development and a killer advertising campaign led to a hot product that is thriving in a market that was long considered off limits to anything new.

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Read the EOS history here: