The beauty industry is rapidly evolving and tempting like big city lights. Celebs and bloggers launch cosmetics lines, make collaborations with popular and starting brands. Everybody is trying to surprise us with absolutely new product features. It’s flashing in the eyes because of bright packages and yet, you want to take part in the feast so badly that you may start wondering how to set your own brand of cosmetics.
The global cosmetics market is expanding rapidly - about five percent a year or so, while the estimated value in 2020, according to research agencies, amounted to over 600 billion U.S. dollars. The most sought after piece of pie is skin care products — everybody wants to stand out and attract customer’s attention. How big is the global cosmetic industry? Statistical agencies predict that it exceeds 750 billion U.S. dollars by 2025.
Read on to learn a few practical tactics and handy how-to's when starting your cosmetic line.
Where to begin?
Let’s say you woke up in the middle of the night and felt like ‘Wow, that’s genius!’ or just got inspired with the idea of launching a business. It would literally blow your mind and push forward to move mountains. At this stage, it’s essential to slow down and wait for no fast results. The most rapid launch of a brand requires time, energy and money. So you’d better prepare mentally in order to not get disappointed or stressed out.
Start the preparatory work
Whatever brilliant ideas you have, it’s very important to test the waters. The makeup industry is overcrowded and lacking air, so you need to figure out who you’re going to cater to.
All possible ways of developing may be roughly divided into 2 types, depending on the initial situation: a trickier and an easier way.
Own production from scratch
By choosing a trickier way, you would have to invent something special and unique. Let’s face the truth: it’s tough, long and expensive. Get ready to peel off from $3000 to $20000 for a single product, depending on the formula and the chemist responsible for making it. Some specific raw materials that you’ll have to pay for out of your own pocket, the search of a qualified cosmetic formulator, the elaboration of a formula — all these steps postpone the desired launch.
Private and white labeling
An easier way assumes you launch a makeup line under your own brand. For that purpose, you’ll have to determine which type of contract manufacturing fits you better: private or white label. Let’s quickly run through both types to clarify the difference. With white label products you know exactly what formulation is inside a vial or a jar. Though you can customize the label and the package of a ready-made product, you don’t own the formulation and can’t amend it. That may become an obstacle to business expansion and any attempt to change a supplier. Clearly white label manufacturing may benefit small business owners in their pursuit of quick results. But if you want a product to meet your specific wants and needs, you should opt for private labelling. When choosing a private label manufacturing model, you can describe all the features that your future product should encompass, such as smell, texture, colour and the desired effect after application. You can even modify the formula and add specific ingredients even if you have no experience in this field. To put it simply, you control the way a product is created without having to pay for what the process requires.
The list of potential partners is super wide ranging from the leading laboratories of Europe to manufacturers from China and Korea. The main risk is to meet the copy-cat of your brand in a picked market niche, not to mention that the best lipstick and mascara formulas are already taken by the world-renowned rivals.
For those of you who neither want to waste energy in competition with European monsters, nor become another logo on a jar with hydrogel eye patches, there’s a third option. You can pick a segment with low competition and still have your branded makeup line.
The lash-and-brow industry is booming, it attracts loads of entrepreneurs. The eyebrow design and lash extensions have overshadowed everyday makeup routine, while a flattering opened-up look has become an all-time trend. Almost every woman dreams to wake up with wispy lashes and perfect brow shape without having to make any efforts. As you see, the consumer profile is showing up.
Find the manufacturer
This is a challenge. Often young brands choose several manufacturers because of the inability to complete the whole production cycle in a single factory. There are a few points that, to our mind, should be taken into account:
- The competence of a partner. Specify what brands trust this manufacturer. Famous names build up a strong reputation.
- The maintenance of quality standards. For example, the presence of the GMP certificate proves that the basic manufacturing practices and prerequisites for the production of cosmetics are being followed.
- The raw materials. When choosing the raw materials, one should always stick to the balance of natural and synthetic ingredients. It’s no secret that totally natural products never get on a store shelf. Only extra ingredients like flavoring or preserving agents make a cosmetic product nice and comfortable in use.
- The professional qualification of a chemist. This specialist is to develop and correct the final formula of the product. As a rule, the most talented and skilled ‘stars’ are already working in a manufacturer’s team, so no need to waste precious time on searching.
- The logistics. This parameter depends on the location of a manufacturer. The closer the factory is situated — the less you spend on product delivery. An opportunity to visit the factory, observe the conditions of contract manufacturing and test the product would be a great option.
- The certification. This stage is obligatory for cosmetics. The service may be offered by the very manufacturer or a specialized agency. It usually takes 4-6 weeks to collect all the documents, finish laboratory tests and receive a declaration of conformity.
The largest manufacturer of cosmetics for lash-and-brow industry in Russia and the CIS is Innovator Cosmetics®. MAYAMY, SEXY and BRONSUN brands have become immediate bestsellers on the market and acknowledged leaders in the eye design industry. The SEXY BROW HENNA kit for brow tinting at home has received over 5800 reviews on Wildberries (a famous on-line marketplace in Russia) where it has been sold more than 100 thousand times.
The company has both the laboratory and the factory with modern high-tech equipment. All the products are certified in compliance with the requirements of international quality standards.
In the very beginning you may want to see how the product does in the market. So it’s better to start cooperating with suppliers who can make small batches of your product, rather than those who only ship in big quantities.
Explore the market
Look at the outstanding representatives of the industry: how they started and what exactly did to get to the current point. That will help you see the big picture and find some tricky pitfalls. Speaking of the latter, mind the following parameters when picking a segment: the actuality, the demand for the products and the level of competition. Nowadays our clients have the biggest interest in a prompt delivery of high-quality products and services, so they chose fast-beauty treatments. Eyebrow lamination, applying lash extensions and eyebrow tinting are in top-5 of the most popular beauty procedures. The lash-and-brow design is a young and promising segment. Managing the mastery doesn’t take much time. The growing number of artists is the proof, and each of them seeks for high-quality materials for work. Some treatments like brow shaping and tinting can be performed at home, so you should consider it when offering a product.
For example, in 2017 Innovator Cosmetics® has presented BRONSUN — the first and unique brow gel dye with henna effect for both professional (a big tube) and home use (mini kits). The product has gained the trust and confidence so quickly, that in 2018 the brow gel dye was voted the Brand of the Year in Russia.
What about the competition, you might ask? Here’s the point: due to the specifics of the segment there are very few manufacturers of lash-and-brow cosmetics. The situation differs from the skin care products with quite alike formulations.
Give life to the brand
Now it’s time to think over the essential details. Cosmetics branding is a powerful tool that can benefit you greatly if properly handled. It’s a perfect way to communicate with the customer base and reveal the necessity to purchase your product. There must be something behind another lipstick or an eyeshadow palette formula — a message that reflects your mission and values, and drives the marketing strategy. What does your brand stand for? For example, once you’ve chosen to sell the branded products for the lash-and-brow industry, your corporate values could be time saving and self-confidence.
Brand book, logo and packaging
The next step is to focus on a few key elements of successful branding, such as a logo, a brand book and a package. Your logo is apparently the most essential part of the branding process, as potential clients will get to know you through the symbol placed on the product packaging, the website and social media accounts. The good news is that you don’t even have to invest colossal sums in a designer’s sketch, especially if you’re short of funds. There are tons of free online applications — try any to create an eye-catching and memorable logo.
The brand book unites the mission, corporate values and brand identity in a set of rules. The marketing materials sent by email, the visit cards, the colour palette and fonts — every detail matters. Clear standards build up the brand’s believability and foster client’s trust, so don’t underestimate brand guidelines. But just before you get started with the layouts, make sure that the brand book represents the brand itself, not your personal vision. Identify the value proposition that stands behind the brand and describe the way you want the clients to see it in a brand style guide. A brand book helps you to establish your company’s personality and corporate culture and leaves no room for misinterpretations and uncertainties.
They say, we judge a book by its cover. The package is an all-in-one solution: it not only gives the first impression but also becomes a way to reach out to customers. When it comes to design, beauty brands usually order package parts from different suppliers (one makes cardboard boxes, other produces jars, while lids are coming from China). The management of the process of packaging may become challenging and put aside the product release.
You can go the other way and order the complete package from a catalogue. Ideally, the packaging service may be offered by the manufacturer. That will eliminate the pre-sales preparation.
For example, Innovator Cosmetics® offers two models of cooperation: white and private label. In both cases, the company takes over the full cycle of manufacturing including the package, so all you have to do is pick a type of labelling and put a designed logo on a product.
Trends are having a huge impact on the final package. Taking care of nature, a brand can opt for biodegradable materials, recycled ocean plastic and eco-friendly inks. The package designs that are too colorful and annoying have given way to the functional minimalism. But don’t think the competitors are still unaware of it. Another trend is borrowing shapes and forms from different spheres of life. This is how capsules of SEXY BROW HENNA appeared: the henna powder contained in each capsule is reliably protected from oxygen, while the pill body provides an easy application. MAYAMY WAX PEN became the real revelation for brow technicians: it’s a handy tool to remove unwanted facial hair with help of wax that doesn’t actually require any heating.
Customers like to see what they pay for, so transparent jars or semi-transparent details of a cardboard box would be the best solution. You can also add a QR-code to the package and boost consumer interaction with your brand. The code may contain a link showing a video of how to apply a product and what result to expect, or it may tell a story of the brand.
As the brand evolves, the package design can be updated and changed significantly. Luckily, modern technologies allow us to experiment and seek the best solutions. Knowing how to adapt and be flexible is crucial.
Let’s say you figured out the concept of the brand and launched the production with all the required permissions and certificates. With regard to promotion, it’s very important to support constant contact to the target audience and understand the market trends. For starters, you need a stunning website with all the possible information about the brand, the idea of creating it and something else that’s hidden behind the scenes. There’s no need to rush to big retailers, as your brand is too young and has no reputation yet. You should tell people more about it and see different opinion leaders, as well as YouTube vloggers and editors of beauty magazines. The feedback that you’ve collected should be posted on the website and social media.
When it comes to increasing brand awareness or boosting sales, Instagram breaks every possible record. Over 1 billion followers log on the platform every month. It’s the influencers — people who set the course in respective niches. They can promote brands on their accounts, and since their reach is massive, it can be great for your business at any point. So, for example, a brow or a makeup artist with large social media followings talks about your products and encourages the followers to purchase the makeup line that you’ve launched. This is how you can make profit out of the influencer’s clout. You don’t want to miss the chance, do you?
The world online shopping has grown exponentially, as it makes life easier and allows users to get maximum within the shortest time. Beauty brands selling on the marketplaces have to work hard to stand out from the competition. The ‘Health & Beauty’ is in the top-10 of the most sought-after categories on Amazon — the world's largest online retailer with over 2 billion visits per month.
Once everything is set, you need to do one more thing before launching a makeup line. Let’s take the US market as an example: in the US it’s illegal to sell unsafe, adulterated or misbranded products. Even though there are no specific laws that determine what tests you’re supposed to do in order to start a makeup line, testing your product to ensure its safety and effectiveness is a must. Sales and distribution of cosmetics in the United States must comply with the regulations published by the FDA.
Starting a business requires funds, so you can either use your own savings or borrow money. The latter option assumes that somebody who is trustworthy enough and has the amount of money you need will become the investor. It can be a family member, a business associate or a bank. Sometimes even local organizations provide grants for new business owners, so you won’t have to pay the money back.
Can you start a makeup line with no money? A simple ‘Yes’ would be too good. However, there’s a scenario for how to hit the beauty market without initial investment. The product that you’ve created serves a specific need for your target audience. You can monetize their interest (likes, views, number of followers) and get more out of your social media accounts. With that ace in the hole you can suggest sharing profits with the manufacturer.
It seems like everything is ready and now you can order a trial batch to test the product itself. Make sure you’re satisfied with the quality in terms of texture, size and colour. You should also check other qualitative measures and probably go through a few rounds of testing before you get it just right. After that you can start making money with a minimal batch. Let your followers and supporters feel thrilled about the big day and start driving sales.
As you can see, the beauty industry is full of surprises, and the only way to face them is to dive headfirst into work. There’s neither versatile advice, nor guarantee of success. Do not give up! Find the drawbacks and fix the bugs throughout the process. Consult the business partners and what’s more important — listen to yourself.