Online Exclusives

JJ Pays Lip Service to Neosporin

By Christine Esposito, Associate Editor | August 25, 2009

Neosporin, the Johnson & Johnson brand best known for treating scrapes and cuts, is rolling out a new line of lip care products. Keeping true to its healing heritage, the Neosporin Lip Health line promises to hydrate lips during the day and renew them overnight.

Winter may be months away, but Neosporin is ready to take on the chapped lip category today as it rolls out a new treatment lip line.

Hitting mass market retailers and drug store chains this month, the Johnson & Johnson brand is looking for Neosporin Lip Health to win over consumers who suffer from chapped lips but have found little relief. The problem, according to J&J’s research, is that current products talk a good game, but none of them address the causes of chapped lips
Daily Hydration (above) and Overnight Renewal Therapy (below) are new from J&J.
and repair them to their naturally healthy state.

According to Information Resources Inc. (IRI), for the 52 weeks ended Aug. 9, sales of lip balm/cold sore products were relatively flat at $399.9 million in supermarkets, drug stores and mass merchandise outlets (excluding Wal-Mart). After market leader Abreva, a cold sore treatment garnering sales of $78.5 million, competition is stiff among lip balms: Wyeth’s Chapstick Classic tallied sales of $26.4 million, followed by Burt’s Bees ($26.3 million), Carmex ($25.3 million) and Blistex ($24.3 million), according to IRI.

According to brand officials, most balms too provide temporary relief of the symptoms of dry, chapped lips by placing a barrier on a layer of unhealthy lips.

“This keeps irritants out and moisture in, but as soon as the barrier wears away, lips are exposed and they haven’t healed,” said Michael Wasden, associate brand manager, noting that consumers often find they need to reapply these products more and more often.

J&J didn’t want to jump into this nearly $400 million market—or diffuse Neosporin’s healing heritage—with just another waxy stick or pot of petroleum jelly. Neosporin’s goal was to develop a product that would address the root causes of unhealthy lips.

According to Laura Magee, principal scientist, the problem stems from lip skin’s stratum corneum. Considerably less protective than body skin’s stratum corneum, licking lips or even using toothpaste, she said, can strip lipids, allowing irritants to get in the underlying layers.

The Neosporin team has addressed the main issues of lip health by infusing the products with lipids, such as cocoa butter and sesame oil, to repair the stratum corneum, as well as peptides, antioxidants, vitamins and emollients to nourish and strengthen lips overtime. The formulations also include Neosporin’s patented technology that helps cells quickly rebuild themselves—the same chemistry that drives the brand’s topical wound healing products.

To back up the line’s effectiveness, Johnson & Johnson conducted a pair of clinical trials last winter in Colorado. Data showed marked improvement just three days—a fact that will be “front and center” in the Neosporin Lip Health television ad campaign set to break Sept. 24.
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