You’ve finally decided to go for it. After years of frustration with mass-produced, diluted, generic, quantity-over-quality Big Cosmetics, you’ve decided to start your own skincare brand. You’re done with products that don’t live up to their claims. You’ve had enough of having to compromise on products that kind of work–but then stop working. You’re sick of having to settle for products that contain ingredients that don’t align with your philosophy.
So you decided to take matters into your own hands. You look up online natural skincare formulation courses, and the magical Google elves direct you right here, to Create Your Skincare Pro. You read some blog posts, maybe take a free skincare training, and are all excited to enroll–but first, you have a question, so you send me an email. It’s an email that I receive several times a month, in fact, which asks me “Rachael, if I take Create Your Skincare Pro, how long soon will I be able to launch a new skincare product?”
How long DOES it take to launch a new skincare product?
My answer is…” it depends.” The fact is that how long it takes to launch a new skincare product is about more than just learning to choose ingredients, formulate the product, manufacture the product, get the packaging, design the labels, put up an online store, and so on.
The truth is that the answer is not always to the question of “how long does it take to launch a new skincare product.” Sometimes the question you should actually ask is “how soon SHOULD I launch a new skincare product?” You can formulate a beautiful product, make it with the best quality ingredients, package it in beautiful bottles with beautiful labels, and put it up for sale online. You might get some sales, lots of sales, or no sales. But unfortunately, it’s not as simple as “if you build it, they will come.”
So today, I want to share with you four things my most successful consulting clients and Create Your Skincare Pro students and grads have had in place BEFORE they launched their brands.
4 things to have in place BEFORE you launch a new skincare product:
1. Identify your ideal customer.
It might seem counterintuitive to identify your ideal customer before you launch a new skincare product. However, if you don’t understand who that person is beforehand, you run a much greater risk of wasting time and money marketing to the wrong customer, pricing your products incorrectly, or being off-base with your messaging.
It is far more effective to gain a clear understanding of who you are creating products for,
what problem they have, what solutions they’ve been looking for that they haven’t been able to find on the market currently, and how they need to receive your message in order to want to make a purchase. If you don’t have that information worked out first, and you just put products out there, hoping that somebody’s going to find them and love them and want to buy them, it’s just not going to work.
It is far more effective to create a marketing plan around a new product line that’s developed for an ideal customer–somebody who could actually realistically buy your products. There are several different methods to develop and understand your ideal customer–and I teach you this in detail in Create Your Skincare Pro and also a bit in the Infinite Content Model Workshop for Skincare Entrepreneurs. The nutshell version is that you want someone who either could or does exist in real life who you understand as well as a screenwriter would understand a lead character they are writing for an Oscar-winning movie.
Write (or voice record) this customer out with as many concrete details as possible: height, weight, hair, eyes, skin, color, skin combination, hairstyle, tasting, clothing, accessories, tattoo, piercings, dimples, etc. What’s important to that person? What are their dreams in life? What excites them? What turns them off completely? What are their struggles?
Describe that person so vividly that if somebody was reading the description, they could actually start to imagine who they would cast in that role if it was a movie or a TV show. What do they want to change about their life? Describe a typical day for your character from waking up to bedtime. What’s their favorite part of the day? What’s their least favorite? Really start to dig into their psychology and understand what makes them tick. When you understand the motivations behind a person’s behaviors, then you can create products and a marketing strategy that appeal to them.
This person can also be somebody based on someone you know in real life, or who you follow on social media who you think would be the perfect customer. If you are an aesthetician, dermatologist, health coach, or other skin wellness practitioner who already has a book of business, this can be a favorite client that you already have. We all have that client that is so awesome that you wish that every single client was just like them, right? This person can absolutely be your ideal customer–and the best part is that you can actually talk to them and get real feedback!
2. Know what problem you’re solving.
All new products have to solve a problem. In a saturated market like skincare, where there are many solutions to many skin problems, you might believe that your product is not solving a problem that hasn’t already been solved. Your ideal customer is searching for you because they haven’t already found a solution to their skin problem. Everyone’s skin is different, and everyone’s lifestyle is different. If Big Cosmetics actually knew what everyone with acne, dark spots, sensitive skin, dry skin, etc. needed, then we wouldn’t have a multi-billion dollar industry with thousands of brands, all trying to solve the same skin problems.
What are some of your biggest issues with the skincare industry? What drove you to want to start your own skincare line in the first place? What solutions for your own skin, or your current clients do the current market’s offerings not solve? Why hasn’t your ideal customer gotten results from these options? What skin problems does your ideal customer spend hours Googling solutions for?
Your new skincare product and brand as a whole need to solve a problem. It doesn’t have to be a physical problem–maybe it’s a problem related to customer experience or accessibility. Maybe it’s a problem related to sustainability or marketing. Maybe it’s a problem related to a social justice issue or cause that your ideal customer wants to rally behind. Whatever your product is, regardless of how cute your packaging is, how eco-friendly, or how fresh and local your ingredients are–it MUST solve a problem that your ideal customer KNOWS that they have.
Solving problems and identifying your ideal customer’s star results is something I teach specifically in the Infinite Content Model Workshop for Skincare Entrepreneurs, by the way.
3. Create an engaged online community using content marketing.
One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen new skincare brand owners make is waiting until their skincare products are launched to start building brand awareness online. They figure that there’s no point in doing so if they don’t have something to sell yet. But the truth is that even if you don’t have a product launched, or your business up and running yet, content marketing should be a top priority.
While you’re working hard in research and development behind the scenes, it’s also time to start building your community, getting your philosophy and brand message out there, and start building a like-minded community. Content (blog posts like this, videos, podcasts, social media posts, etc) is what helps people identify who you are, what you’re about, and if you’re a potential solution for their problem.
When people engage with your high-quality content (likes, shares, bookmarks, comments, etc), and you engage back with them, it helps them feel that they’re part of your community so that when you do actually have a product to sell or a service to offer, they will want to support you. It’s a lot easier to launch a product or service when you already have a community primed and ready for it.
When you already have a good amount of content available on your website before you launch, once a new potential customer makes it to your website, website, you will already be viewed as an educational resource. On the flip side, if a new customer comes to your website and sees no blog posts, and your social media pages are also naked, then your brand won’t come across as credible.
I recommend posting content regularly both on your blog and social media platforms. Personally, I first post my content on my blog (so the magical Google elves can easily direct people to me) and then repurpose that content in emails, and on my various social media platforms.
This way, my prospective students and clients have the opportunity to get to know kind of what my philosophy is on skincare, on skincare formulation, and on skincare business. That way, they have a solid idea of what to expect from working with me.
Do you get stuck or overwhelmed trying to figure out what to post and when? Does the idea of a content calendar freak you out? I can help you break it down–check out my 3-part Infinite Content Model Workshop for Skincare Entrepreneurs.
4. You need a budget before you launch a new skincare product.
I am a firm believer that you do not need to have an investor or a huge amount of cash to start a skincare business. I’m not going to lie–it absolutely does help, gives you more choices, and might speed up your timeline. You can launch a new skincare product on a low budget, launch one new skincare product at a time, reinvest your revenue back into the business, and grow slowly.
Whether you have lots of cash flow or not that much, the ability to budget is an absolute necessity (which is why we teach it early on in Create Your Skincare Pro). You need to keep track of both fixed and variable expenses, and revenue so you can make projections. Budgeting is easier now than ever since there are so many easy-to-use online platforms to help you do it. I personally use (and cannot live without) YNAB (You Need A Budget)*. It helps me budget my revenue as it comes in so that when I have an expense, the money is already assigned to that particular expense.
Without budgeting and being responsible with your money, your business cannot grow. You won’t be able to launch new skincare products effectively, because you won’t have a good idea of how much cash you have available for things like hiring virtual assistants, tech support help, labels, and social media ads. You’ll be more likely to accrue debt. So if you’ve never budgeted before, make today the day you start!
So to answer the question…
How long does it actually take to launch a new skincare product? For clients and students who have a clear understanding of their ideal customer, what problem their new product solves, and who have cultivated an engaged online community through consistent content marketing, I’ve seen it happen in as little as 3 months, or as long as 2 years (depending on what kind of product it is, how skilled they were at formulation, how organized they were, what kind of funding they had available to them, and how focused they were during the process).
Launching a new skincare product is not something that you want to rush, because mistakes can be extremely costly–but it also doesn’t HAVE to take years. It always goes faster with focus, determination, organization, and commitment.
And of course, hiring a consultant or having a teacher walk you through the process also helps speed up the process, while also helping you make sure you’re not skipping important steps.
Do you have your own skincare line?
How long did it take you to launch your first product? How long does it typically take you to bring additional new products to market? Tell me about it in the comments!
*This post contains affiliate links. Read our affiliate disclaimer here.