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How to Market Your Own Cosmetics

Selling professional skin, hair and body care products that you have made in your own lab can be very rewarding, fun and creative, but can also mean a lot of work and a lot of things to think about. Below we have summarized a list of all the steps you have to consider when you plan to create your own cosmetic line from scratch.

However, starting your own cosmetic business doesn't necessarily mean that you have to do everything on your own, you could also consult with a professional contract manufacturer who does everything for you including creating the formulas, manufacturing the products, testing and filling the products, designing the packaging, dealing with legal issues (e.g. labeling), and even marketing the products for you. However, such services cost a lot of money and can take away much of your creativity, flexibility and fun.
 
   
   
Defining Your Place in the Market  
   
Before you start experimenting with formulas or even creating your first batch of cosmetics you should have a very clear understanding about which segment of the market you'd like to focus on. As the cosmetic market is dominated by large, multinational corporations selling mass products in all market segments you have to specialize in just one type or group of customer to stay competitive (unless you have a budget of millions of dollars).

Within this specific group, however, you can overtake the large competitors by better products and better service. And remember: The market does not need more cosmetics, but the market lusts for exciting, different, fresh NEW product concepts. By the end of the day you should have a clear idea what niche you'd like market with your products (e.g. "I want to sell natural hand creams at an affordable price for outdoor working people with rough and dry hands.")
 
   
 
 
  Define a market segment: focus on a specific group of customers (e.g. nature loving, middle-aged woman). Note: you can always expand your business to new segments but it's easier to start with just one group of customers.

Know your customer: Do some research and get to know your customer's habits, wishes, willingness to spend money, locations where they prefer to shop, fragrances they might like best, etc.
 
     
 
 
 
   
   
   

Finding and Testing a Formula

 
   
Creating your own formula is a lot fun even though it typically requires a lot of experimenting, modifying, playing around with concentrations, and exchanging ingredients with new ingredients. However, once your formula stands it gives you a lot of satisfaction as you have created something truly unique.

You may also look for existing formulas posted on our website or other online databases, or reproduce formulas from the ingredient lists of commercial products. However, it is often necessary that even marketed formulas you have obtained from other sources need to be modified to your specific needs.
 
   
 
 
  Create or choose the right formula: Before starting to formulate, make sure you consider the right form of the product (e.g. is a lotion or cream better for the container I have in mind?), and the kind of ingredients that fit your target customer (e.g. high-performance or more natural ingredients?)

Test your formula: Don't just test your formula on your own or your friend's skin. Do stability tests! Stability testing is your very best friend; it will prevent your company from marketing a product that is unstable, and your reputation being ruined. Check out our stability testing checklist.
 
     
 
 
 
   
   
   
Manufacturing the Product  
   
First off, always strive for good quality whether you plan to manufacture your products from scratch or modify prefabricated bases purchased from us or somebody else. Pay strict attention to stringent hygiene, a clean working space, and proper use and storage of ingredients.

Once your business moves from a kitchen-based production facility to a more professional level with your own laboratory you should follow the Cosmetic Good Manufacturing Practice Guidelines as required by the FDA.
 
   
 
 
  Manufacture at consistent quality: Set up quality rules and follow them strictly: buy only ingredients from trusted sources, use only distilled water (not tap water), store ingredients adequately, use only clean and disinfected tools and containers, wear disposable gloves and a face mask, keep a log book to record all your batch productions, reserve samples of every batch.

Consider a contract manufacturer: If you can not or do not want to manufacture your products on your own consider consulting a contract manufacturer. This is especially the case if your business has grown to a size where you have to manufacture large quantities (drum sizes) as large scale production has its own challenges! Typically, contract manufacturers have a minimum of 10'000 to 20'000 containers per product.
 
     
 
 
 
   
   
   
Getting the Right Packaging and Label  
   
Packaging is often referred to as a silent salesman; its use is critical within any marketing plan, whether it responds to market needs or whether it creates new opportunities and new markets. Research has shown that over 50% of customers bought a certain brand only because they were drawn to the packaging. Purchasing cosmetics is an emotive purchase.

Thus, you could go all the way using a custom-designed container with silk-screen printed labeling, packed in a 4-color printed carton box, and overwrapped in cellophane. But you know this costs a fortune.

Our advice is: find a good compromise between a high-end luxury packaging and an unprofessionally looking homemade packaging. And don't forget that, besides the design, cosmetic packaging needs also to be functional, practical, and made of a good quality (no leaking, no plastic smelling, no breaking during transport).
 
   
 
 
 

Find a container: Before buying a container in bulk quantities (typically in the thousands) buy first a few single containers of various sizes, designs and materials and decide only then which containers fits your needs best.

Design a label: If you are familiar using drawing or photo editing programs and have a flair for good design, go ahead and design your own label. Otherwise get help from a professional graphic designer.

Check the labeling regulations: The FDA has very strict labeling regulations which you have to follow. If your label doesn't meet all the requirements you can be fined and/or your products must be withdrawn from the market. Read more about labeling regulations

Choose the type of labeling: Cosmetic containers can be labeled in two ways, either by sticking a printed label onto the container or by having the text printed directly onto the container (a process called silk screen printing or hot stamping).

The advantage of silk screen printing is that it looks very professional and you don't have to stick labels to the containers anymore. However, there is typically a minimum of several thousand containers and once the containers are printed you can't change the text anymore. Silk screen printing is offered by most container manufacturers or by specialized companies (e.g. www.freeportscreen.com)

If you want to print your own labels we recommend using a high-quality color laser printer or the Primera printing system (www.primeralabel.com). Otherwise, there are many label printing companies who offer custom label printing at reasonable cost and with low minimum quantities (e.g. www.flypackaging.com, www.sklabel.com, www.lightninglabels.com)

 
     
 
 
 
   
   
   
Getting Your Products to the Market  
   
As with all products to be sold on the market there are generally four different marketing decisions you have to make including decisions about the product, price, place (distribution), and promotion.  
   
 
 
  Product: Although your product may now be finished and ready to sell you still may spend some thoughts about its intangible features like: "Is the overall look and feel attractive?" or "would the product benefit from a sister product (e.g. adding a toner to a face cleanser)?"

Price: Setting the price for your products depends on various aspects including production cost, target audience, distribution channel (website or brick-and-mortar store), competitor products, and overhead costs. In general, niche products like all-natural or certified organic products are priced with a much higher margin than mass products.

Place: To give your business a boost consider multiple distribution channels including an online store, retailers carrying niche cosmetics (e.g. spas, hair saloons, nail shops, health stores, dermatological clinics), your own brick-and-mortar store, cosmetic parties at your home.

Promotion: Promotion represents the various aspects of marketing communication, that is, the communication of information about your product with the goal of generating a positive customer response. Consider a budget for public relation, advertising, and personal selling (sales representatives).