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Skin care brand eos aims big after Nordic re-launch


With over 50 million consumers worldwide, eos – an acronym for Evolution of Smooth - has taken the health and beauty industry by storm. Founded in 2007, its journey began with a desire to avoid the traditional narratives of the beauty industry. Extensive consumer research led to the development of a spherical lip balm, slickly designed and colourfully packaged, aimed at bringing joy and celebration to a traditionally functional category.

It was a strategy that paid off; the product quickly gained fans around the world including a flurry of celebrity endorsements from stars such as Kim Kardashian and Britney Spears. The business conquered the US first before securing various international distribution partnerships to grow the brand overseas. Since then, eos has sold over half a billion units of its lip balms worldwide, while successfully launching women’s shaving cream and hand and body lotions that share the same innovative thinking.

In 2010, eos launched in the Nordic market using local distributors and the brand has enjoyed strong incremental growth, driven by its growing global popularity. The company, however, takes a long-term view on brand building and international expansion. While continuing to expand internationally, between 2010 and 2016, eos chose to reject further distributor requests from over 150 countries and grow in a more measured manner with significant investments in its own offices, organisation and marketing. Recognising that in the long term the Nordics would need strong marketing, product focus and sales discipline, in 2016 the business acted to change the situation, taking over all marketing, as well as sales and distribution in Denmark and Sweden.

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In May that year, Matilda Jakobsson joined to lead the new Nordic division; she explained to Nigel Wright what steps are needed to build eos to be a leading beauty and skincare brand in the region: “On the back of the hype surrounding eos, the distributors built a broad network of retail distribution across the region. eos’s strategy is to put strong brand support in place to maintain momentum after the early success. Now we have an experienced and highly energised team in place, eos can build a reputation in the Nordics through establishing a long-term brand, channel, price and communications strategies.”

One of the first challenges the new eos team is tackling is brand perception. Rather than appealing to a broad cross-section of female consumers -  ranging from age fifteen up to mid-forties in other countries - the bright colours and playful shape of eos products, and therefore the eos brand in the Nordics, are strongly associated with younger trend-seeking consumers. The brand’s organic ingredients, high quality, product benefits and value for money were not being effectively communicated to consumers. Matilda strongly believes that a clear brand guide and channel strategy is critical to ensuring the intended message doesn't get lost.  

The tools which have helped eos achieve global success will play a major part in the repositioning process, as Matilda explains: “Social media and PR are important areas for us and that’s why appointing a marketing manager, strong in these areas, was my priority. Adapting to the local market means we need to engage local key influencers -  and a major focus for the team so far has been reaching out to our desired target market and finding out the most appropriate influencers to engage.”

Understanding the minutiae of the situation is vital and eos’s new approach in the Nordics is adapted to “…four markets, four currencies, four cultures, four languages” comprising brand position, channel strategy and launching new categories. With the overall objective of establishing eos as a leading beauty and skincare brand in the region; during the last year, Matilda and her team have focused on repositioning the brand and raising awareness of eos’s other qualities beyond its unique shape and colour.

A key aspect of the approach within the context of the region has been to place greater emphasis on eos’s one hundred percent natural and organic ingredients in communications: “We are adding the EcoCert organic certification on our packaging. This is a European classification, whereas previously we’d only used US labels. EcoCert is well known in the Nordics so it sends a clearer message to local consumers.” The organic ingredients in the product are also important to the brand because it's based on the brand’s belief that consumers care about what's in their beauty products. eos is the largest organic lip balm in the world.  This is increasingly relevant in the Nordics where consumers are more health conscious. In Matilda’s words: “We want people to know that eos has superior products which make you smile.”

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Underpinning these messages is a targeted channel and partnership strategy. While Matilda is grateful for the work done by eos’s Nordic distributor in building a broad network of retail partners, she admits that coming into the role it was clear a more “selective, deeper and reciprocal approach was needed.” Key Account Managers were hired early on, and efforts were made to strengthen relationships with retailers: “We are working close to the retailers to drive the beauty and skincare categories forward; using joint marketing and in-store activation strategies that benefit both parties, building trust and demonstrating that eos can deliver results.”

Online, a channel that Matilda acknowledges will be important to eos’s future growth, also needs developing. She described this ongoing process as a “clean-up job” to reposition the channel in a way that fits with the eos brand: “eos products appear on a variety of sites, but the Nordic division aims to establish partnerships with only those online retailers who want to represent our brand, rather than just sell our wares.” 

With the necessary steps in place to build eos in the Nordic market, the business is set to start a “step-by-step” process of introducing/reintroducing consumers to the products it is known for worldwide. Matilda noted how the division is privileged to have access to a strong portfolio, which it can select from when ready to take on new categories. She explained how it’s the team’s mission to deliver each product in the best way possible for the eos brand, continuing the journey which started with lip balm: “eos is only established in the lip balm category in the region, but we want to change that. All our products will have a clear go-to-market strategy, and we will aim to drive value in the category by delivering something different.”

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When asked about the inevitable rise of copycat brands, Matilda was adamant that eos view all competition as an opportunity more so than a threat. This attitude is a testament to the businesses confidence in its brand and its ability to stay relevant and up-to-date. The advantage, Matilda explained, lies in a team that is highly experienced combined with eos’s small, collegial and entrepreneurial set-up and mindset. The leadership team work as a tight unit. Co-founder Sanjiv Mehra regularly visits the regions and country heads also get together in New York for business reviews, discussions around R&D and strategy planning: “There’s a strong understanding of the unique challenges of the different regions and collective input and sharing of ideas of how each market can adapt to win.”

Looking beyond 2017 Matilda says she hopes to see the Nordic division utilise local celebrity endorsements in the same way the global business has, as well as form collaborations with “big sophisticated brands” that fit with eos’s vibe. In April eos Germany announced a joint venture with the Austrian designer Marina Hoermanseder, launching co-branded limited edition eos lip balms supported by a PR campaign tied into the Berlin fashion week. Matilda commented: “She’s very ‘on trend’ and it allows eos to associate with, and be recognised, as a fashion brand. Finding local partnerships like this are part of the plan moving forward.” 

With an aim to grow the Nordic business over the next twelve months, Matilda is already weighing up how she will strengthen her team to facilitate this rapid growth. eos’s approach to talent acquisition is cautious, where only the best and most suitable people are hired. And she noted how employees must have the right knowledge in addition to a mentality which enables them to “adapt to and perform in a small entrepreneurial company.” She added: “The entrepreneurial culture will be a constant as eos grows. Yes, some structure and process will emerge, but the mindset won’t ever change.”

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