You are eager to launch your new beauty product and so far you’ve done everything right. At the outset, you created a buyer persona to identify your target customer, and used all of the ensuing information to develop a product you believe will fill a void in the beauty market. You feel confident in your cosmetic formula, the integrity of your ingredients and your innovative, eco-friendly packaging. You’re eating, breathing and sleeping your new product in preparation for launch. There’s just one problem: you have not actively sought outside input about your product, or even shared a prototype with anyone in your target audience.
According to GCI Magazine, 25,000 new consumer food, beverage, beauty and health care products go to market each year and only 40% survive for a period of 5 years. That’s a 60% success rate overall. So what can you do to make sure you’re one of the 40% who stick around?
The best way to mitigate the risk of failure is to market test your skincare product before it lands in your customers’ hands. Market testing is a necessary, pre-launch activity to identify potential flaws or misses in your product’s formula, brand positioning, packaging, or price, before it goes to market. It’s not all negative, either. Market testing can also identify any attributes or exciting product features you may have missed.
Conducting market testing can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Below are some easy steps you can take to get your product into the right hands and solicit crucial feedback for a successful launch. Please note, we’re not talking about safety testing (microbial, challenge, performance, stability, etc.) here. Though safety testing is a crucial step in developing a cosmetic product, we’re focusing solely on marketing in this blog post.
Remember to keep an open mind when it comes to constructive criticism. After all, it’s likely that the passion you have for this product has rendered you unable to objectively evaluate its flaws.
First- create a prototype of your product
Building in time to test with at least a small group of customers is critical to your product’s success. You may need to buy a minimum run of product in your packaging depending on how many testers you have or how you want to run the testing, but no matter what, you’ll get invaluable feedback that will inform the final product.
Send samples or prototypes of your product to a group of volunteer product-testers. You can find them on social media or by posting an ad online. Reach out to already established, online communities or a Facebook group comprised of people who are interested in natural and organic beauty products.
Send the samples with an accompanying Q& A card (or ask for an email response) if you have specific questions to pose. Otherwise, just encourage your testers to be verbose–the more they’re willing to share, the better.
Remember your buyer persona? Get your product into her hands.
It’s important to solicit advice from the right people. Remember the person you initially envisioned buying and using this product? Find that person and get your product into their hands. If your product is a gentle-yet-effective, moisturizing, USDA-certified organic hand wash that you formulated in an attempt to replace the harsh hand cleanser you formerly (reluctantly) used after gardening, take a sample of your new creation to your local, organic farm & garden store and ask a fellow gardener to test it out.
Ask for honest, critical feedback about the product’s feel, smell, viscosity, and color. Ask them how much they would pay for your product and whether they perceive other products on the market to be similar to, better, or worse than yours.
Note: If you already run a successful beauty products company and you’re adding a new product to your line, you should solicit advice from your current customer base. We had a customer go into production with a product she loved. It turned out that her customers hated it. Returns were mounting, she was losing money and her biggest customers were losing faith in her overall product line. When asked to reflect on what happened, she admitted that she did not give samples to her future customers to get their feedback on her new product.
There are many ways to effectively market test your next beauty product, so feel free to get creative. Remember to take your time–it is smarter to delay launch and fix problems before you go to market than it is to rush and create an imperfect (even potentially really bad) product.
Have any product launch failure stories to share? Feel free to leave them in the comments below. As always, please let us know if you have any questions!
Source: Duber-Smith, Darrin C & Gregory Black, 2012, April 4. The Process of Product Development. GCI Magazine. http://www.gcimagazine.com/business/management/innovation/146168195.html