3 steps to cosmetic product success

Ensuring product success goes beyond a great concept – the product has to be different to what else is out there, suit your target market needs, be at a price they want to pay, be advertised to the right people and deliver on its promises!



Step #1: Know your market

When it comes to having a successful brand, you need to deliver what your target market needs, wants and can’t already get. It needs to be at the price they want to pay and be easy for them to purchase. To make sure you have what your target market needs:

  • profile their needs properly, ensuring you are bringing them the right type of product with the required performance at the right price
  • make sure you marketing message resonates with what they are looking for
  • make sure your marketing clearly stipulates how your product fulfils their needs
  • make it easy for them to purchase – be direct with your marketing to suit your distribution capacity

You also need to make sure you have something that is markedly different to everything else out there. Think about it this way: why would a store want to take your brand on, if they can already offer that type of product from another established company? You need to give them a definitive point of difference and a ‘sure-fire’ reason to want to stock your brand – they have to believe it will sell to take up their shelf space. What does your brand do that makes it so different to everything else out there? It needs to be more than just price, performance or pretty packaging – it needs to have a good story behind the development and suit the market to which you are aiming it. Answer these questions to see if you have a strong enough point of difference:

  • who are your closest competitors?
  • what makes your product different to theirs?
  • how would a consumer know the difference?
  • how do you intend to communicate the difference?
  • how are you going to maintain that point of difference over time, when you extend your brand?
  • why would a distributor want to stock your brand when there is so much already out there?

If you plan to make it big in this highly competitive industry, you need to have a strong point of difference and be ready to market it effectively.


Step #2: Price the product right

Pricing a product well is more than just making sure it has a similar recommended retail price (RRP) to the competition, it also means ensuring a suitable budget for:

  • sales & marketing – this will become your biggest and most necessary expense – even if you have the best product in the world, if no-one knows about it, it will not sell!
  • R&D – R&D is an investment in the quality and growth of your brand – refer also to step 3!
  • COGS (cost of goods sold) – this includes all costs to sell the product as it is on the shelves. A pretty jar is nice but an effective product is more important for repeat sales – spend the money on the product, not the packaging, to get the best results and sales growth
  • administrative costs – these are the fixed costs related to your business set up and should be minimal compared to other expenses
  • distributor/retailer mark-up – your wholesale price should allow a minimum 80% mark up to retailers; and needs to allow for more mark up if you are using a distributor to sell into retail

Your product should be priced to be competitive with others like it in the market, accounting for its differences in size, performance and ‘story’. Don’t forget the RRP you set MUST suit your market expectations, otherwise it won’t sell, but at the same time, it must cover off on all essential elements AND make a sustainable profit, otherwise the brand will bomb.


Step #3: Invest in good R&D

When small companies start out, they don’t normally realise all the steps required for good R&D. This includes:

  • all required formulation development
  • production of pilot batches for scale up, stability and evaluation testing
  • stability and preservative efficacy testing (PET)
  • ensuring compliance of marketing claims, labels and advertising, including overseas
  • ensuring efficacy to support claims and that the product delivers on its promises

If you want to be successful in the cosmetics/personal care industry, you MUST own your own formulas. While it seems like a cheaper option to get your products made for you by a contract manufacturer at first (and they own the formula), once you get off the ground, you may not be able to purchase those formulas and will be restricted to that manufacturer. Using Private Label is another no-no – this means another brand would have a very similar product to yours, differing in only a couple of ingredients or maybe not at all – and with no point of difference, you would have failed Step #1!

Investing in your own IP in the early stages is an investment in your long-term success – either learn how to do it yourself or pay a contract formulator to prepare your IP for you. Then you not only get exactly what you want in your product (and can ensure a strong point of difference), you also have the satisfaction of knowing it is uniquely your IP. When your brand makes it to the big time, your Intellectual Property is safe, and it is YOURS.

Finally, remember that the idea you have today can realistically take 6-12 months to turn into product in the marketplace even when things go to plan – and longer when they don’t – so delaying on a concept or step in the R&D process adds unnecessarily to what is already a time consuming process. Having good R&D project management is essential if you ever want to get to market!


Want to become a qualified Cosmetic Chemist? The Diploma of Personal Care Formulation (course code 10788NAT) has been developed to provide a comprehensive approach to teaching the formulation of safe, stable and efficacious personal care products for the hair, hands, body and face. It also covers the development of products from the concept stage and through reverse engineering.

Learn more here.

Do you want to create your own cosmetic brand or cosmetic line? Or maybe you have been selling on a small scale at the markets, to family and friends and now want to take the next steps? You can have the best product in the world, it is not going to be successful if your consumers are not aware of it! The Cosmetic Brand Essentials workshop provides an overview of what you need to think of when planning your personal care products and business! It also provides you with a FREE ebook, FREE Business Plan template, pricing strategy and all the things you need to think of PLUS industry guidance on what is normal and necessary for the personal care industry.

Learn more here.

Don't need the qualification but still want to learn on a professional level? Our courses are all available as "study only", where you can study independently.

Contact us for more information to get the learning and answers you are searching for no matter where you are located in the world! Contact: info@personalcarescience.com.au