In Episode 35 of Earned, Conor sits down with Soyoung Kang, CMO of TikTok’s favorite brand EOS.
We start the episode by diving into the origins of the brand’s unfiltered “Bless Your F-ing Cooch” shaving cream collaboration with TikTok creator Carly Joy (@killljoyy), which went viral and doubled EOS’ business practically overnight. We then take a step back to learn about Soyoung’s impressive background (she received her undergraduate degree from MIT and MBA from Wharton), and she shares key takeaways from her leadership roles at L Brands, Victoria’s Secret, and Bath & Body Works. We discuss how mass brands like EOS are disrupting traditionally replenishment-driven product categories by creating desire and inspiration for consumers, before unpacking Soyoung’s own leadership philosophies. Finally, we explore EOS’ winning TikTok marketing strategies, such as Soyoung’s diversified approach to working with content creators.
We’ve included a few discussion highlights from the episode below, but be sure to check out the full video above, listen to the podcast below, or tune in on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Google Podcasts!
The following interview has been lightly edited for concision.
“This is how powerful a really great, smart, and fast partnership with a creator can be”: How EOS’ Clever TikTok Collab Doubled the Brand’s Business
Conor: What has been your latest big experiment, and what did you learn from it?
Soyoung: I feel like experimentation has always been something that I just love about the industry that we're in and about my particular functional role within this industry, because I think that within beauty, you have some of the most entrepreneurial and risk-taking folks out there. And then on top of that, when you work on the marketing side, you're always sort of tinkering with new and emerging things. So for us, I would say one sort of newer thing that we have been really embracing is having a more hilarious and authentic dialogue on TikTok with our audience there, and I think that that's been really eye-opening for us in terms of how much people are really embracing the real, raw, and unfiltered voice that we've been putting out there to talk about things that maybe brands haven't historically talked about, that have been a little bit more taboo or off limits. And I think that that's yielding incredible returns, and we're excited to do more of it going forward.
The example that we have been the most proud of and that continues to yield results for our business has been when we had this viral video that appeared on TikToK of a young creator who was basically raving about our shave cream product. Now, our shave cream has existed in our portfolio actually since the beginning. It was launched at the beginning of EOS, but it hadn't really gotten a ton of love. We've always had sort of a cult following, but we haven't really done a whole lot to invest in and grow that business. But people have found it, people have loved it, and this one particular creator was raving because somebody had asked her, “how do you deal with the razor bumps in your bikini area?”
So she posted this very long, hilarious, super authentic video where she says that our product is the secret for how to “bless your f-ing cooch.” And she goes on with this long tutorial about how she shaves her private parts. And it's the kind of thing that if you think back years ago, not only would brands not have talked about that or embraced it or amplified it, but frankly people really just didn't [talk about it] out in public to millions of people.
But her video went absolutely viral, millions and millions of people watched it and liked it. We knew that we wanted to be a part of the conversation and just really embrace the authenticity, the realness, and the unfiltered view on something that actually a lot of people wonder about—a lot of people really do wonder how to shave your cooch properly. And we wanted to be part of this conversation to help people learn. And [the creator] has this whole thing where she's like, you shave down, sideways on one side, sideways on the other, and then up. It's really descriptive. So we took literally all of her words and we repackaged our product, and we basically created a whole limited edition line of product called Cooch Blessing Cream.
And we took verbatim every single word she said and put all of them printed on the packaging verbatim. We sent it to her as a gift, but also as like a, “Hey creator, we'd love to partner with you.” That got her attention, and it got TikTok’s attention, because we got millions of more views on that video as well. It was the beginning of a partnership, so then we started a collaboration with her. It was so successful that we expanded it out to other creators as well, who all put their own unique spin on it and spoke to their own audiences in similarly hilarious ways about how to achieve that “smooth-ass hoo-ha.”
It was a tremendous success for us. Our business has doubled. It was an immediate, overnight impact for our business. You can really see it in the way that our searches were up, search ranking was up, the traffic to our site increased by 450 times looking for shave cream. We essentially sold out across all of our retailers. We've been absolutely in chase mode in terms of trying to get that supply back in. For several weeks, we were the number one shave brand at Target across men's and women's. This is how powerful the platform is, how powerful social media is, how powerful a really great, smart, and fast partnership with a creator can be in terms of impacting your business. We leaned into it, and I will tell you, there were a couple of conversations like, “are we ready for this?” And we were like, “hell yeah, we're ready for it,” because this is the conversation that we can't not be a part of. So we moved really fast and it worked and it continues to work for us.
“You have to try a lot in order to actually find the things that win”: Soyoung Kang on EOS’ Experimental (and Successful) TikTok Strategy
Soyoung: TikTok has become a real staple component of our marketing plan, and it has evolved over time. The way that we think about our engagement on it, I would say that in the beginning, we weren't as savvy in terms of how to build out our owned and organic presence. And now, I think we have some best-in-class ways of approaching that, so that we can build our own audience of fans on the platform. And then, in addition, we often have episodic creator activations, where we get to then reach new audiences and tap into other people's incredible creativity. And, of course, we’re always investing in paid media on the platform, whether it's through the creator content or our owned content.
I would say that our strategy in the beginning was really like, we love it, let's just see how it goes. Now, I think we have a much more sophisticated strategy in play where it's a multi-component strategy that we really activate 365 days a year. And there are a few things that we've learned. I think we've learned that the platform itself has evolved, so the content on it has evolved. But the one thing I would say that was true back then and is true today, is that highly entertaining, not perfect, not polished content tends to be the most effective and tends to get the highest amount of engagement. And I actually think that that's affecting and influencing content outside of the platform as well. Increasingly, I feel that that's the type of content that's really resonating on other social media platforms or in other areas of production. And so that is something where I feel there's been an overarching trend that TikTok has truly influenced.
We've found that working with different creators continues to be an important part of our platform strategy, where we really need to reach a lot of different audiences and having that diversified approach across many different creators gives us [more opportunities]. You’ve got to have a lot of at-bats to hit a home run. You have to try a lot in order to actually find the things that win. And we've also found that owned and organic is just as important as paid. Having a really smart strategy around owned and organic allows for us to have our own voice on the platform. It also allows for us to be more relevant, not that weird brand that advertises occasionally, but the brand that's a member of the community. So that's been a really important thing that we've worked really hard on over the course of the last two years to refine—what's our voice, what's our point of view?
Our content tends to be funny and authentic, and we don't take ourselves too seriously. And I think as brands have increasingly embraced not taking yourself too seriously and being more authentic and funny and a little raw, they're going to find a higher degree of success on the platform because that's really what the community wants.
You can watch the entire interview here, or listen to the full episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Google Podcasts. To catch up on our other 34 episodes, featuring leaders from brands like ColourPop, Gymshark, Summer Fridays, and Gucci, visit our Earned Podcast page.