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lip service
by Preeti Khicha
March 30, 2009

Handbags, coat pockets and kitchen drawers—Chapstick lip balm can be found everywhere. The popularity of this brand of lip balm, manufactured by Wyeth Consumer Healthcare, has made it a brand name synonymous with any lip balm contained in a lipstick-style tube. Chapstick is used to treat and prevent chapped lips, and the SPF variety is used as sunscreen to prevent sunburn.

Chapstick has rural beginnings. C.D. Fleet—a physician from Lynchburg, Virginia—invented Chapstick in the early 1880s. The first Chapstick resembled a small wickless candle wrapped in tin foil. In 1912 this recipe was sold to Lynchburg resident John Morton, founder or Morton Manufacturing, for US$ 5. After a few decades of operation, Chapstick was sold to the A.H. Robbins Company, after which the Wyeth Corporation took over the brand.

More than 120 years after its creation, Chapstick has managed to stick around, changing very little over time. In fact, today the lip balm has its own website—but does the brand’s site have web browsers licking their lips?

The brand’s homepage is simple, with the center of the page dedicated to showcasing the product line. Visitors can learn about the different variants by clicking on one of the options on the left toolbar, which include Medicated, Peppermint, Pirates of the Caribbean and the New True Shimmer varieties. Indeed, Chapstick’s extensive product portfolio has something to suit everyone’s taste. Each product page provides helpful details on uses, active ingredients and directions, ensuring that consumers have complete knowledge of the product—and brand—they are using.

The brand is known for being innovative and developing flavors such as Nemo Lip Balm and Princess Lip Balm inspired by the Disney movies Finding Nemo and The Little Mermaid. The brand is also socially responsible and offers its product in pink packaging to support breast cancer awareness. Information on these limited editions is available on the website.

There is also a link to an online shop, which directs the visitor to the websites of online pharmacies in the US where the Chapstick brand is sold—namely CVS,, Walgreens and Duane Reade. There’s also a link at the bottom of the left sidebar called “Wyeth Special Offers,” which promotes other products from Wyeth’s extended portfolio such as Advil, Centrum, Preparation H and Dimetapp.

Chapstick Chapstick, a classic brand, keeps its online proposition simple and resists superfluities in design and content. However, the brand could adopt some innovative features to make the site more interactive and customer friendly. Chapstick could learn from Kiehl’s, a cosmetic company that has an online index for different skin types and a recommended products section for complementary lip balms and salves.

Though on there is a link to the parent company’s site, Wyeth Healthcare, the brand needs to project its vivid history on its own online platform—a history that differentiates Chapstick from similar products and branding. An “About Us” section could highlight the evolution of the brand through a combination of text and illustrations. Certainly a missed branding opportunity.

In general, Chapstick’s website embraces the brand’s essence by affording visitors useful information through a straightforward approach that reflects the brand’s pragmatic purpose and simple design. However, most Chapstick users understand that the product is addictive in an innocuous way, and added interactivity to Chapstick’s website would certainly have them coming back for more, one swipe at a time.


Preeti Khicha currently lives in Mumbai, India. She graduated from the University of Bath, UK, with a master's degree in management, specializing in marketing. She holds an undergraduate degree in economics and psychology from the University of Virginia, USA.

*Due to the constantly changing environment of websites, some reviews may no longer reflect the current website for this brand.
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