Ingenious Marketing Success Stories
The founding story of the natural cosmetics company Burt’s Bees is one out of the picture books: beardy beekeeper, honey stall owner and activist Burt Shavitz picks up the hitchhiking artist Roxanne Quimby in 1984 – at the end of the journey the two were not only a couple but also business partners. What began as a small candle factory in Maine, USA, developed into a niche supplier of natural cosmetics and finally broke into the English speaking mass market in the mid-noughties. According to the company, its core and cult product, a lip balm made of beeswax, now sells every second. What can Burt’s Bees success teach us?
What began as candles from unused wax to being the US’ # 2 in lip care products – Burt’s Bees, which was founded in 1984 in Maine, USA, can boast an unprecedented track record over the past 34 years. Especially in the English-speaking countries, but also in Asia and Germany. After being acquired by the US company Clorox in 2007 , hippiesque niche provider is now not only available worldwide in pharmacies and health shops but also in many chain drugstores. Why?
Build a credible product
Burt’s Bees initially began producing candles sold at craft markets, before expanding their range to furniture polish, perfume and finally lip balm, which quickly became a bestseller. Soon, Burt’s Bees focused entirely on personal care products and became a shareholder in 1991. The product range now includes around 350+ personal care and cosmetics products. Just like in the early days, they focus on natural ingredients such as almond milk, butter, wax and leave out petrochemicals and animal experiments. This philosophy has long existed before the new environmental awareness trend of recent years and makes Burt’s Bees products particularly credible, which is one important part of their success.
Show your personality and stay consistent
Artist meets beekeeper. While Roxanne Quimby and Burt Shavitz later sadly split up and Quimby bought her business partner out of the company in 1999 following repeated disagreements, her unconventional, strong founding story is still carrying the corporate narrative, with the portrait of the bearded Burt Shavitz, who passed away in 2015, continues to depict the company’s personality alongside his name: close to nature, unconventional, peace-loving, nostalgic, environmentally friendly, activist. A strong profile that first made Burt’s Bees the cult brand of a nature-loving niche market. And then, the company’s big hour struck.
Spot and seize your opportunities
Social responsibility, environmental friendliness, sustainability. It is not just the millennials who now come back to these values when making purchasing decisions.* Public debate about the climate change and the influence of consumer behavior continue, makiong sure the trend towards the “green consumer” will continue to play a large or even greater role in the future. Burt’s Bees benefited from the growing demand for natural and cruelty free body care, and expanded into a true force of nature that is available not only in specialty stores but also in supermarket chains and drugstores.
Promoting social causes – staying true to the product
Social marketing is now a tool used by many corporations to position themselves as environmentally and socially concerned. Hardly any of them manage to keep it so credible and hand in hand with the product core as does Burt’s Bees: For the “Bring back the Bees” campaign in 2016/2017, the company promised to plant 5000 wildflower seeds for every selfie their followers posted with a Special Edition lip balm, with the goal of reaching one billion seeds planted. The campaign turned out successful, not only for the number of wildflowers but also that of products sold. According to Clorox, one Burt’s Bees lip balm goes over the counter now every second.