top of page


From Lip Balm to Skin Care for Lips

We co-created the future of this historic brand on BrandInformers™ , uncovering a groundbreaking insight that turned ChapStick, Pfizer’s oldest brand, into its fastest growing brand for 5 years in a row.

The challenge

ChapStick invented the lip balm category, but a lot has changed since the brand was Founded over 130 years ago. ChapStick enjoys nearly 100% awareness and strong usage, but resting on those laurels was not enough to compete with new, disruptive brands. The seasonal launch of popular flavor varieties provided news and bumps in sales, but was not bringing in new consumers at a higher price point like competitors. By 2010, new players (EOS, Burt’s Bees and many others) had flooded the category, proliferating choice. In a sea of competition, lip balm consumers lacked brand loyalty, buying on impulse, rather than with thoughtful preference. Grabbing a stick from the display with little attention paid to distinctive offerings or brands was typical behavior. In 2011, ChapStick faced a -4.2% decline in dollar sales as competitive pressure continued to increase. Additionally, the brand had hit a price ceiling, with current flavor innovation unable to rise above the value pricing ChapStick was known for. This iconic brand needed reinvigoration to attract new users, who were discovering 300 new lip products annually, most of which at much higher price points than ChapStick. To capture consumer attention, ChapStick required a holistic effort, from innovation to advertising and everything in between.



We unearthed an adjacent category’s consumer behavior that, when leveraged for lips, created a record setting, highly incremental growth trajectory. Our new positioning, pipeline of innovation, and advertising approach fueled this beloved brand. Through extensive co-creation with thousands of women on BrandInformers™ we found that unlike lip care, skincare consumers are highly involved, brand loyal and pay premium prices for their layered routines.  There was irony in this dynamic because the truth is: lips are skin. In fact, they are the most delicate skin on the body. Yet we found a huge gap between skincare and lip care behavior. There was no brand more qualified to close this gap than ChapStick, the inventor and expert of lip care.




This was not just any insight, but one that could be leveraged to elevate the way consumers cared for their lips. From it, a game-changing strategic idea was born. ChapStick could no longer define itself as lip balm. From here on, ChapStick became skincare for lips.  Once we landed this idea, we set out to build an innovation pipeline and marketing approach that would live up to it. We created 10 new product ideas, all which scored in the top 3% of Bases Global database. Then we brought to life this new powerful positioning with a strong call to action for women to “Put their lips first.” To drive people to care for their lips like their skin, we introduced little known facts that made consumers recognize the special needs of their lips. To answer these needs, our innovation pipeline and messaging brought forward skincare ingredient trends and new benefits that revolutionized lip care and elevated ChapStick perceptions. Our strategic work has been expanded globally, and our innovation being leveraged around the world


Ultimately, we provoked consumers to care for their lips as thoughtfully as the rest of their skin, and the rest is history.




Years of record breaking sales


Incrementality on new items


Total Hydration sales year-on-year


Brand Foundations | BrandInformers™ |  Visual Identity Design | Insights | Big Idea | Messaging Strategy | TV | Print | Social + Digital

bottom of page