Retailers are licking their lips over potential in an often glossed over business — lip balms.
With volume lagging in color cosmetics, several chains are upping the assortment of lip balms, a category with appeal across today’s hot buttons — Millennials, multicultural consumers and those looking for natural beauty.
For the 52-week period ended in April of 2015, lip balm sales soared almost 26 percent in all mass outlets according to IRI to $650 million. In comparison, cosmetics volume advanced only 4 percent in the same period.
For years, the market was dominated by a handful of brands including Blistex, Carmex and ChapStick, as well as the legendary Lip Smacker gloss. There are new items emerging to challenge the venerable brands — especially in the teen gloss category where Lip Smacker lost traction. Fashion has been injected into the business to create separate new contenders from the more medicinal options.
The names listed by retailers as sparking sales include natural entry Burt’s Bees, uniquely packaged eos, Maybelline’s youth hit Baby Lips and a relatively new contender called Mwah from Clio.
Clio’s Mwah is sold at Target and is now rolling out to roughly 1,000 Wal-Mart doors to be merchandised in multiple locations. Mwah has several distinguishing factors including a “slider” container that’s different than traditional packages. “It fits comfortably in a pocket and our branding is bold and fun with the ability to catch the eye of any person who passes it on the shelf or checkout,” said Jamie Leventhal, executive vice president of Clio, Mwah’s parent company.
Buyers said the fun nature of the new breed of lip products encourages multiple purchases and locations in beauty, cough and cold and checkout.
“Traditional cough and cold over-the-counter lip balm has been just that — traditional. In the past there has been no real innovation or anything exciting or different with regard to the vessel design, chemistry, colors or flavors,” said Leventhal. “Ten years ago you wouldn’t walk into somebody’s cube at work and see eight or nine different Blistex or ChapStick lip balms lining the side of their desk. Today we find lots of girls and young women looking at the different innovative lip balms as something to collect several different flavors of — and in some cases even display them.”
Purchasing more than one item has been behind rapid growth of eos, which in addition to being contained in a round package is sold in compelling shades. Demand has been so strong the company recently expanded into shave as well as hand and body products.
And all eyes are on Markwins International and its turnaround plans for Lip Smacker, a brand near and dear to many women. Markwins is making a play to regain Lip Smacker’s cult status by giving it long overdue attention. There are also plans to expand the market with new licenses such as major league sports teams and Star Wars. “We have some very strong plans for holiday 2015, too,” added Bill George, president and chief operating officer of Markwins Beauty.
Retailers are enthused about Markwins’ takeover and cite the company’s success in overhauling Wet ‘n Wild following its purchase of AM Cosmetics in 2003.