Many people view the month of January as an opportunity for a fresh start. I see it as a fork in the road: we can choose to stay on our existing path, or we may choose to pave a path to change. Either way, there’s something psychologically powerful about the first month of a new year—it sets the pace for the next eleven months of our lives.
Business owners certainly feel the anticipation of change in the air at this time of the year. For the Handmade Soap and Cosmetic Industry, new trends and a growing consumer awareness about the benefits of “All Natural” vs. harmful chemicals, present an exciting opportunity in 2017.
Would you like to create change in your handmade business this year? You can pave the path to increased sales and greater brand visibility with a bit of research, experimentation and planning.
Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
Appeal to the fastest growing consumer segment.
While popular belief says that the Millennial generation is broke, that is not true. They are simply beginning their accumulation of wealth at a later age than previous generations. In fact, it’s anticipated that Millennials will outspend Baby Boomers in 2017, so why not attract them to your business?
Millennials like to feel that their money is well spent on quality products at an affordable price, but more importantly they want to engage with brands that care about social causes and give back to society. They also expect support when they have a question or complaint.
Action Steps: Consider affiliating your brand with a charity or donating a small portion of your proceeds or product. Change to environmentally friendly packaging and ingredients. Offer product support and make it easy to contact your company. Also, remember that “Millennial” is a broad term and can refer to those who are in their late teens through their mid-thirties. Know what age bracket you are marketing to.
Offer solution-focused products.
While bath bombs and sugar scrubs are fun and luxurious, shoppers also look for products that provide a solution to things they struggle with, like acne or brittle nails. When a product solves a problem, or meets the increasing demand for multi-feature functionality (like moisturizing cream and lip balm with sunscreen in them), it’s likely to stand out from the rest.
Action Steps: Select a “problem” or two to focus on and develop a few new products that address them. For instance, stress relieving aromatherapy, or anti-aging serums or creams that fight against fine lines and wrinkles.
Freshen up your packaging.
Your packaging will have a stronger impact if it’s current and eye catching, in addition to being eco-friendly. It’s possible that you selected your packaging products years ago and that they are quite functional, but are they keeping up with the trendy “hipster” look and feel? Does your packaging say, “We’re a cool brand,” or does it say, “We’re a brand who likes the little lavender pouch and we’re sticking with it”?
Action Steps: Check out a few packaging sites to see what’s new. Also, research popular products to see what colors, shapes and textures they’ve chosen for the new year. An excursion to Sephora and a couple of department stores will certainly spark ideas.
Add an interactive touch to your website.
Last week I was online shopping for a vacuum cleaner. It can be frustrating to do product comparisons, so I greatly appreciate websites that make it easy. I did not, however, expect to find a brand that offered an online tool to assess which vacuum would best suit my needs. With a simple survey about my home environment and preferred product options, this company told me which one of their vacuum cleaners to purchase. And guess what? I did!
Action Steps: Consider hiring a coder from a resource like Upwork.com or Freelancer.com to design a fun survey or interactive tool to assist shoppers. Make their brand experience memorable—even fun—while you steer visitors to their ideal purchase(s).
Phase out chemicals and toxins.
The day of the savvy, well-informed consumer is here, at long last. Buyers are demanding products that will help them look and feel good without risking adverse effects over the long term. Consequently, suppliers are meeting the growing demand for affordable, safe ingredients and pushing for manufacturers to transition away from chemicals. Companies large and small are making big changes. For instance, due to public demand, General Mills phased out the toxic preservative, BHT from their cereals over the last two years. Are there any questionable ingredients in your products?
Action Steps: If any of your products contain chemical-based ingredients, now is the time to research alternatives. Also, avoid terms like, “fragrance” on your product labels, opting for more descriptive terms like, “pure peppermint essential oil”.
Laying the groundwork, including a solid plan, in the first quarter will set the pace for increasing revenue over the months and years ahead. What better way to bring in the New Year?