Last October Fast Company did a write-up on the start of EOS, or Evolution of Smooth, to highlight some of the non-traditional methods that the founders used to bring a brand-new product to the fore. The co-founders, Sanjiv Mehra, a marketing specialist who had worked for Pepsico and other big businesses, worked together with two men fresh from “start-up incubators” Jonathan Teller and Craig Dubitsky (Dubitsky left to work on his own project).
EOS’s founders screened the cosmetic market for stale commodities and landed on lip balm. ten years ago there were not many options aside from theChap-stick and copycat products in their easily-lost tubes and unchanging flavors.
Research revealed that the unisex balms were purchased on eBay and Amazon primarily by women, but were marketed to men. Mehra and Teller focused instead on the obvious customer base, women, and narrowed further by choosing style-conscious women 25-35 as a target audience.
Women reported finding lip balm a bit distasteful; they took no pleasure in using the tubes. In designing their project, they follow their tagline, “The lip balm that makes you smile.” EOS lip balm designed a product that pleasurably engaged all five senses. Each pastel ball had an easy-grip plastic that felt smooth and softly coated or textured at the same time–a matte, soft plastic that feels almost velvety. Pastel colors make the spheres look almost like Easter eggs or chocolate truffles, the association to candy or delightful gifts is a quick one to make. When the lid is closed it gives a soft “click” that reassures all that it’s definitely closed. The moisturizing balm easily covers the lips and feels deliciously smooth. Reviewers raved about the flavors.
Mehra and Teller promoted the product in magazines and on TV but also went after product placement opportunities, such as in the music videos of Taylor Swift and Britney Spears. They sponsored one of Demi Lovato’s world tour. They asked social media style personalities to review their products. Popular, stylish celebrities showed up in magazines and on TV holding the cute little orbs. Using this “influencer” marketing delivered the product directly to their demographic. Today EOS brand moves one million units a week, making them second only to Burt’s Bees according to Kline Research.