When you are setting up any business, you need to make sure that you have the basics in place before you begin. The hair care industry is dominated by several large businesses but there is still plenty of room for smaller businesses to enter the market, especially if you are planning to create organic products or have another niche in mind.
All industries go through particular trends and the hair care industry is no different. Keeping an eye on the trends is a good way to work out how to pitch your own products. For example, you might notice that there are lots of products using coconut oil recently and decide to join the fashion with your own coconut products. Alternatively, you could look at the current trends and find a gap to fill instead.
The beauty industry – and the personal care industry by extension – is often all about marketing the best version of your customer to themselves. Your products are there to make them feel fabulous and look amazing and so the product needs to do exactly as promised.
Where most products just need to be functional, yours will also need to look and smell attractive to your customers to persuade them first to buy it and then to use it on their hair and body. Your product design may also be affected by the niche of the market you are targeting. For example, if you are going for the organic market, you may choose not to add colorings to your product or may only use natural colorings.
You should also think carefully about where your product is most likely to be placed in a store and how it will look on the shelf. This is important because your customers will have expectations based on where they find your product in store and will be able to make a comparison with other similar products. This is where packaging comes in.
Your packaging design is the most important asset you have to tempt customers to step away from their usual products and try yours instead. If you have poor packaging, it doesn’t matter how good the product inside is, it will take a long time to persuade people to try it. This means that once you have an idea for your product, you need to figure out what will be highlighted on the packaging to sell it.
Many shoppers don’t really think about what they are buying; instead, they work around the store picking up the things they usually get and are attracted to bright colors and interesting shapes much more than they are fancy descriptions. Knowing this should certainly impact the way you package your product and you should be able to describe your brand to a 5-year-old successfully.
Hair care products come in all different shapes and sizes but it still takes a good eye to identify the kind of bottle that will stand out for all the right reasons. This time last year, Dove, an international beauty brand based in the UK discovered that their 6 new bottle designs based on female shapes were an idea better left in the boardroom than transcribed to the store shelf. While their aim was to promote body diversity, they came across as patronising instead of motivating.
However badly the PR stunt went for Dove, what they did show was that a different shape could stand out a mile on the shelf. Perfume bottles are another great example of how this works and could be a good source of inspiration for your own design. Once you have an idea, talk to a company like C.L. Smith about creating a mockup and seeing how the design works practically as well as aesthetically.
Create a Business Plan
Now that you have your product and packaging, you will need to create a business plan to figure out how to progress your business. The perfect business plan is your opportunity to prepare yourself for the future and figure out what you are all about. Writing a snapshot of what your business goals are and how you plan to achieve them will really help to focus your mind and keep track of your progress.
Costings are certainly one of the most important aspects of your business. While mock-ups and samples can be quite expensive, ordering in bulk will often drive the cost per unit down – you just need to be certain that you will be able to sell everything you make. You should factor in all your expenses including office space, supplies, staffing, marketing and even basics like transport to ensure that you understand how much you need to earn to keep the business running.
You should also think about how you are going to fund your business to begin with. Setting up a service business might be quite a cheap operation (especially if it’s literally just you and a laptop) but running a business that sells products is much more costly to set up. Not only will you have all the costs above, but you won’t have any income just yet to cover those costs as you will in the future. You will also need to factor paying off your loans into your profit margins.
This is also a good place to start working out what your marketing strategy will be including costs and projections. Your marketing campaign at the beginning of your business will be very different to the campaigns you run when you are better established. With this in mind, you might like to run the costs of a few different ideas to allow you a more dynamic approach to your marketing strategy in the future.
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The initial purpose of your marketing campaign is to raise awareness of your new brand. This means that rather than persuading people to buy, for now, you are just persuading people to have a look and get familiar with your branding. For most businesses, social media marketing is one of the best ways to do this as it allows you to target lots of people you think will be interested and encourage them to follow you in some way.
Competitions are a great way to encourage people to share your social posts and can be a very cheap method for raising awareness. For example, you might ask people to submit before and after photos of their hair after using your product to win a prize. They will then share their picture (with a related hashtag for your brand) and all their friends will see it. The more people you can persuade to join in, the more brand awareness you will achieve.
At this stage, the more impressions you can get, the better so you could also think about giving away some freebies. Samples are a great way to give people a taste of your product in the hope that they will like it and choose to buy more. Lots of hair care companies team up with magazines to distribute samples but you could also go to events or set up on a busy high street to get similar results. Just make sure that your branding and packaging is all recognisable so that your customer know exactly what to look for next time they go shopping.
Once you are a little more established as a brand, you can start shifting your attention from brand awareness to conversions. Content marketing is the ideal way to do this as it sits in the middle of the two giving you a chance to get in front of more people while persuading them to buy. Plus, it gives you an opportunity to show off your knowledge and establish yourself as a brand leader.
A blog is the easiest and most obvious way to start your content marketing and you should think about the kind of things that your customers will be interested in reading on your site. For example, they might like to know how to use your hair mask or whether cold water is really better than warm with conditioner. You could also create video tutorials that can be shared around social media – especially on Instagram. The more content you produce, the more likely it is that people will keep coming back to your site and the more entrances they have too.
Setting up a hair care business and brand is never going to be easy in such a diverse and crowded market. However, if you have a great and original idea that could be just what the market needs, you should follow your passion and set it in motion.
Like any other business, the hair care industry requires plenty of research, detailed planning and excellent marketing to ensure that you stand out and get noticed. However, you will also need to have lots of flare and passion for this competitive industry and be certain that what you are planning to offer can’t be found anywhere else. It’s a tough ask, but if you get it right, the rewards will be amazing.