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Action at the Hive

September 3, 2008

A Q&A with Mariah Kulp of Burt's Bees

Action at the Hive

A Q&A with Mariah Kulp of Burt’s Bees

By Melissa Meisel
Associate Editor

The buzz on Burt’s Bees has been on high volume for the past few years now. With a major presence in national drugstores, as well as a $925 million acquisition by Clorox last October, the 24-year-old eco-friendly line most known for its peppermint-scented beeswax lip balm has taken a major (and successful) foray into branches of the personal care market. Recent launches featured anti-aging, bath and body and baby care collections.

Burt's Bees is helping to save bees with proceeds from the sale of its lip balm.
So, what’s next? New products for Fall 2008 include a “Fabulously Fresh” Peppermint & Rosemary Body Bar, Res-Q Lip Balm SPF 15 formulated with titanium dioxide and Radiance Serum, a natural formula created with royal jelly to restore moisture and reveal skin’s natural radiance. The company is also releasing CCD Lip Balm, where 5% of the proceeds from every purchase will go to The North American Pollinator Protection Campaign and its Honeybee Health Improvement Project funding research to support honeybee health and wellness.

Mariah Kulp, manager, public relations, promotions and licensing, Burt’s Bees found some time to talk with HAPPI about the latest news and launches at the company for Fall 2008 and beyond:


Is the new CCD balm the first fundraising product the company has marketed? How did you get involved with the cause?


The new CCD Lip Balm is the first promotional lip balm Burt’s Bees has launched to raise awareness and funding for a cause. Colony Collapse Disorder is very near and dear to us at Burt’s Bees.  We recognize the importance of bees in our ecosystem, knowing that 30% of the fruit- and vegetable-producing plants we rely on to feed our families need honeybee pollination to thrive, everything from watermelons, cranberries, peppers, almonds and pumpkins.  Without honeybees, these crops—our food—are at risk.  

At Burt’s Bees, we’re working to do our part, by raising awareness about the disappearing honeybees through a variety of different initiatives while helping to fund research by the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign’s Honeybee Health Improvement Project, to find a solution for this critical environmental issue and improve the overall health and wellness of honeybees.

In fall of 2007, we worked with founder and beekeeper Burt Shavitz to produce a public service announcement to call attention to the issue of CCD, and empower consumers to help by buying local, organic foods and planting a packet of bee-friendly seeds offered for free on our website.  The PSA ran before “Bee Movie” and we distributed 50,000 seed packets to consumers as a result – that’s millions of bee-friendly flowers.  

The latest from Burt's Bees
During Pollinator Week, our chief executive officer, John Replogle, testified before Congress on behalf of the bees.  The same week, we rolled out the promotional CCD Lip Balm with five percent of the proceeds going directly to the Honeybee Health Improvement Project to research the causes and prevention of CCD.  Additionally, we renewed our online free seed offering and distributed another 40,000 bee-friendly seeds.


How is the bath and body line selling?  How did you choose the latest scent for it, peppermint?


Overall, the natural personal care category is outpacing the personal care category significantly.  Both our cleansing and care businesses are strong and Burt’s Bees is leading the growth across many personal care categories.  Our products are not only effective at delivering powerful benefits to the skin and hair, but we do it without using ingredients like sodium laurel sulfate (SLS), parabens or petrochemicals that have a potential human health risk.

As for the choice of peppermint in our new Fabulously Fresh Peppermint and Rosemary Body Bar, it’s the same natural ingredient we use to create a stimulating and refreshing experience with our Beeswax Lip Balm and our Peppermint Foot Lotion, both of which are consumer favorites and perfect for bath and shower.


How are Burt’s anti-aging products different from the others on the market?


The Burt’s Bees Naturally Ageless Collection utilizes the super-antioxidant pomegranate to fight the effects of free radical damage. We combine it with breakthrough natural ingredients like white birch bark to assuage common signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles.  The collection provides a balanced natural appearance from the outside in without using potentially harmful ingredients.


What trends do you see hitting the personal care market for 2009?


The natural personal care market is predicted to double in size and household penetration by 2012. This growth is fueled by two trends toward inner well-being and outer well-being (environmental sustainability) impacting consumer decisions from the foods they eat to the personal care products they use, and choosing natural products is a clear solution. Also, some of the new trends and products available in the natural personal care marketplace include sunscreens/SPF products (as previously reported in the September 2008 HAPPI).  More and more companies are beginning to understand the need for natural sun protection.

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