EOS is slowly branching out of its core categories.
The lip and body-care brand — which stands for Evolution of Smooth and is best known for its spherical-shaped lip balm — is expanding into facial skin care with its six-item Aqua franchise.
Aqua is the brand’s first cross-category collection that includes both lip and skin-care products, and its first entry into facial skin care. The skin-care products include a purifying clay mask, a glow-inducing lotion and priming multipurpose moisturizer.
EOS is a mass market staple. Its lip balms, shave creams and hand and body lotions are sold in virtually every mass, drug and grocery door in the U.S., with the addition of specialty accounts like Claire’s and Five Below. Aqua will be the first product franchise the brand is selling exclusively on its e-commerce site, Evolutionofsmooth.com.
Nancy Chan, vice president of international marketing for EOS, stressed that the facial skin care isn’t necessarily the new Aspect to the Aqua launch. “This is the first time we’re going to be taking a collection online to our fan base first,” she said. “It’s really about satisfying their demanding appetite — we’re always hearing from them [on social media] ‘Oh EOS, you should make this or you should make that.’”
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EOS counts nine million followers across its Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts. Chan noted that the brand’s consumer base is primarily trend-driven women in their 20s and 30s. Launching the trend-driven Aqua online first is a way for EOS to reach that demographic quickly and without having to align with retailer planograms. “There are so many ideas we have in the pipeline, we expect this to be the first of many collections to come, and it allows us to say, ‘Hey, you guys have always asked us for more and for new, and here’s an ability for us to do that much more often now,'” she said.
Chan and her team — including Mike Wong, executive vice president of research and development — focused on unique textures for the Aqua line for a “holistic sensory experience.”
“EOS has always been known to drive trend, and by extending into face, we’re looking at ways we can bring skin care to life,” Chan said.
Prices for the Aqua products are slightly higher than the typical EOS lip balm, which are priced at about $3 each. Skin-care products include the Purifying Clay Mask, Glistening Lotion that is designed to impart a dewy look to skin and the Hydrating Skin Prep, a priming moisturizer that aside from acting as a makeup base, serves as a toner and serum.
Aqua’s lip products include the Deep Hydration Lip Mask, Exfoliating Lip Scrub and a clear lip gloss designed to transform into a color based on the lips’ pH levels.
EOS is also known to formulate its products with “better for you” ingredients. Its core range of lip balms is organic. Aqua’s products are infused with sustainably sourced sea moss and sea kelp for hydrating, anti-inflammatory benefits. “They’re ingredients you wouldn’t normally see at a mass level,” Wong said.
The company at one point was known as a disruptor in the lip balm category — in 2015, WWD reported that EOS held the most market share in lip balms in the mass market. But the brand has faltered over the past few years. The company declined to talk financials, but industry sources estimate the brand did about $250 million in retail sales in 2015. Chan asserts the company is on an upswing, attributing growth to the fall 2017 launch of EOS Crystal, a line of wax-free lip balms. “We’re coming off strong growth in January, and Crystal has been exceeding expectations and it’s been hard to keep up with demand,” she said.
Chan is planning to eventually expand Aqua into mass retail, but will continue to churn out new collection launches on e-commerce first. Mass skin-care is experiencing its own growth spurt — IRI data from the end of February tracked cleansers up 16 percent and moisturizers up 17 percent.
But Chan, who is a Unilever veteran, doesn’t view the category as saturated yet, and she sees potential for EOS to deliver a more trend-driven spin on traditional categories. For example, the Aqua packaging is designed to unfolded like the petals of a flower.
“There’s still an opportunity to deliver an elevated experience — there are some constraints [for CPG companies] where it might be easier to not invest in packaging or ingredients,” said Chan. “That’s where the mass skin-care category still has opportunity to improve and grow — pay attention to those touchpoints and details.”