6 Activities to Help Define Your Niche and Plan Your Product Line
The term niche refers to a clearly defined, narrow segment of an eco-system. In marketing, we use this scientific term to define a market segment that enables companies to be big fish in a small pond instead of being small fish in a big pond. Your first job, to successfully serve a niche, is to articulate your brand identity clearly. Whether you will market to curly headed, middle-aged women, teens plagued by cystic acne, or back-to-nature cowgirls, your brand identity will tell others about the niche you serve — what you do, who you do it for, and why you do it.
As the natural and organic skin care, body care, and hair care markets get more competitive; being a natural, vegan, and sustainably sourced company will not differentiate you enough. You will be vulnerable to ‘me, too-itis’ and your customers will choose on price, rather than your unique benefits. Discovering your brand identity can be one of the most exciting and daunting steps you as an owner may need to do. Your brand identity is the keystone to developing customer product lines and the treatment protocols that can delight you and your spa and salon clients.
So- let’s have some fun. When working with your contract manufacturer here are five questions to guide you creatively through brand and treatment protocol development. Grab your favorite refreshment, pen, and journal and let’s begin!
Start with a deep breath and imagine stepping inside your spa like a first-time customer.
1.What do you feel, see, smell and taste as you enter the treatment space? Is it inspiring?
Envisioning your treatment space is a delightful and exciting first step – ask yourself what inspires you. Is it adventure and exotic places? The aroma of fresh fruit and a delightfully prepared gourmet meal? Do you crave the jewel-tones of the world around us? Or do you want to educate and share with your clients the active ingredients available from nature?
- Activity: Take a moment and journal some thoughts about what inspires you or what you want to inspire in your customers?
2. Who do you see in your treatment space?
Can you identify the qualities of your ideal customer? Their age and lifestyle preferences? Are they elegantly dressed or casually chic? How old are they? Are they concerned about sustainable ingredients and the environment?
Understanding your target client is important to understanding the type(s) of skincare lines, product ingredients and packaging presentation that reflects their needs and desires.
- Activity: Find three blogs you want to follow. Peruse websites like Essential, Day Spa and Happi to identify trends that resonate with you. Bookmark these sites and sign up for their newsletters.
3. What benefits do you want from ingredients in your product line?
Once you start to understand who your customer will be and what they want, it’s time to begin thinking about the benefits ingredients in your products will provide. Try to think about outcomes rather than specific ingredients at this point. Do you want to smooth skin? To refresh and rejuvenate skin? Help your customers relax? By knowing the outcome you want, your contract manufacturer may suggest ingredients, and help you select the finished products you want to offer your customers.
Knowing the benefits you want your products to offer will help you in creating your packaging and marketing your products through services (via the back bar) and in the retail section of your spa/salon.
- Activity: Reflect on your brand. What does it promise? Is it high-end? Down to earth? Are you concerned about certain chemicals/ingredients? Are there ingredients that you want to include or exclude? Are there other products in the market like yours? Who do you admire? Will you have a unique product serve your customer?
4. From the previous questions can you start to visualize the products that will support your vision?
What are your price points? What is the customer experience? What is your niche? Once you start to get a feel for your space, your customer, your final products, and the benefits of your skin care line(s), you can determine if you will create branded product for your business. If so, your next step is to decide if you want to private label an existing product, if you’d like to have a unique formula created for you, or if you will have a formula you already use manufactured. You’ll want to know the direction before you contact a contract manufacturer.
One consideration in deciding whether to private label or have a custom formulation is ownership. Do you need to own the formula? This is important if you have investors or plan to sell your business.
- Activity: Research products that offer similar benefits. What are the common ingredients? Do you know what they all do? Are there ingredients you don’t want? And too, think about the time that you have to develop your line(s). Do you need to be in the market quickly? Or can you take a year and develop unique products?
5. How will your present your product line to support your brand vision? What type of treatment benefits do you want to highlight and include in your product(s)?
Do you have Tx protocols? Are you looking for facial, body, mani + pedi products? Are you interested in developing a make-up line? Do you need back-bar products? Are you putting your products in retail containers? What sizes? Do you have a feel for your packaging? Do you want glass? Recyclable? Fun or classic?
- Activity: Take a look at your spa and imagine each station. What do you want each customer to experience? Take a look at your competitors – their price points, their concepts. If you can, visit spas in your area and pick up their marketing material(s) or have a treatment.
6. How will you put it all together?
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. How do you experience the products? As part of a treatment? Through samples? Do you have team members offer free hand massages to showcase your custom hand crème while customers are waiting for the color to set?
And how will you get to market? Do you have an existing spa and need a ready-to-market product line for your existing customers? Do you already have formulas and products that you love and want to add something new? Do you want to take an existing base and semi-customize? Or do you want to work with a formulator to create something brand new and exciting? Think about when you need to be in the market, the resources you can apply, and how you will launch your new products. This will help you decide what to offer at launch, and how to expand your offering.
- Activity: Think about where you are and the resources you have. Are you brand new to the skincare game? When do you want to be in the market with your new product(s)? What type of packaging do you want? Think about where you are in your process and what the unifying concept is for your you, your customer, your product, and your spa. Map out the next six months and determine what you need to launch and how you will serve your niche market.
By setting aside time to think and plan, and to research and test, you will find your way to a unique niche and how you will serve them. We look forward to hearing what niche you are choosing and how your planning process is going.
As always, we’re here to help. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions and ideas.