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Finding a Niche

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jenmarie82

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How did everyone decide what their niche was? Who they were going to target? I'm thinking now that I want to keep my all natural M&P soaps but I also want to add some with color. How would I word these? They wouldn't be considered natural if they have dye in them but at the same time I don't want to scare people away from using them.
 

pepperi27

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Have you taken some time to browse through our forums?? There is a plethora of information cause a lot of your questions have already been answered. If you look above your screen there is a recipe link oh and a business link! So kick your feet up and read away!
 

Rebelshope

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Honestly if I am looked for a natural soap, would not be looking at a m&p. I would focus on the CP soaps. Now m&p might be very natural, but that is not what I think when I see them.

Plus I think you need to be more creative when doing m&p. I can go to JoAnne's or Hobby Lobby and make simple m&p myself. It would have to be a really neat looking m&p soap for me to buy it.
 

jenmarie82

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So what you're saying then is that people who want natural soap wouldn't buy my soap? Even though I use herbs/botanicals and natural base?
And yes, you're right about just anyone making their own soap, but not everyone does! Not everyone has the time to do it or the know how. How creative can you be with goat milk and shea butter? The M&P soaps that everyone is used to are the ones with colored glycerin. I just tried making some of those and they are prettier but they're full of chemicals and that's not what i want to market. I will try to sell some but my main soap will be the goat milk. I don't know how creative you can get with that!
 

Rebelshope

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Please don't get upset with me, I was just trying to tell you what I thought.

People may buy it. I don't know.

All I can tell you is that when I went looking for a more natural soap, I went looking for cp. Now I don't know if I am like most people or not.

You would be amazed at how creative you can be with all the different oils, EO, natural dyes, etc. Some are just beautiful, but then again I love a good natural milk soap. It does not have to look fancy.

When I think of melt and pour soaps, I think cute and clever soaps. Like these

http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?ref=sr_gallery_18&listing_id=15022502
http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=14301253
http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?ref=sr_gallery_21&listing_id=14227473

I was just trying to give the opinon of a potential soap buyer and what I look for.
 

Deda

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http://chesapeakebaybathandbody.net/

I think Oceanmember is quite creative with her MP.
Her site is visually very pretty, easy to navigate.
It makes you feel confident that what you find will be of high quality.

And it's VERY CREATIVE.
 

jenmarie82

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I'm not upset, it's just that so many people on the web tend to look down upon MP soap, maybe it's because they only make CP! I just wonder if I would do okay selling soap with no dye and soap with dye. I don't know what my niche market would be though.
 

Rebelshope

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I guess it just sounded like you were upset because of the (!) tends to suggest strong emotion.

I have made m&p and just started making cp.
 

Harlow

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Market trends show the majority of people who prefer natural soap prefer CP.

Market trends also show the majority of people who prefer M&P prefer fancy soaps.

That is all anyone is trying to say.

It's not a matter of bashing. It's a matter of experienced soapers sharing their knowledge base w/ you.

Spend some time with google looking at other peoples shops & you will see how others have dealt with the same questions you are struggling with.

Many shops sell natural soap on one page & scented/colored soap on another.
 

pepperi27

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jenmarie82 said:
I'm not upset, it's just that so many people on the web tend to look down upon MP soap, maybe it's because they only make CP! I just wonder if I would do okay selling soap with no dye and soap with dye. I don't know what my niche market would be though.
You will never know if you don't try! No one here can tell you that yes you will sell with one or other or both. Goatsmilk soap can be colored with herbs I've done it many times.
 

beachgurl

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Jen, I don't think people look down on M & P. I kind of think of M & P vs. cold/hot process as the difference between Olive Garden and Outback. Both great places to eat ... have good quality stuff .. but you, the consumer, expect different things from each place. If you want great Italian food you'll go to Olive Garden. If you want a blooming onion you'll go to Outback (dang I'm hungry). I believe that's kind of how maybe soap consumers look at the whole ordeal.

You can go natural without the popping colors, sparkles, etc. However, you're going to have to discern you product from BOTH typical M & P soaps and CP/HP soaps. Why? If someone wants "natural" why wouldn't they go CP or HP? If someone wants M & P, why wouldn't they buy a beautifully eye popping bar? This is where it's going to be important for you to brand and engage in product differentiation. You have to make the market for it and push customers towards your lineup by offering them superior value in some way, shape, or form.

As always, this is just my personal opinion. I personally like M & P because it's like art and soap rolled into one. I have a bar right now, that has beautiful curlies in, bold colors .. that is absolutely too pretty to wash my butt with. It sits on display, I think I would cry if someone used it. I look for bright colors, cool shapes, novel ideas when I buy melt and pour. What do I think about cold process? I think it's a lot more bland as far as colors, shapes, etc, but it's more natural imho. There's always a market for products .. the question is ... is it big enough? If not can you make it big enough by offering some type of superior customer value? What superior customer value are you offering? How do you plan to inform your customers of the superior value that you offer? I'm not trying to be critical, but from a marketing standpoint, these are serious issues that you need to address as they form the basis of marketing.

EDIT: BTW, you're absolutely right ... finding a niche market and developing core competencies is THE way to become successful.
 

Woodi

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In 7 years of selling my soap, I've discovered that people will buy anything....not the same people, mind you. But I have taught several other soapmakers in my neighbourhood, never fearing that I will lose my customer base, because I have chosen to attract a certain group of people; each soapmaker has her own style and customs, and selling techniques, shape of bar, wrapping style, ingredients in it, etc....

So don't worry: MP does sell, and sell well. and so does CP or HP....

Your question was about finding niches. My son the B.Comm expert recommended that I focus on my 'intended market', which includes: socioeconomic status (which will point you to the neighbourhood you want to sell in); age group (stores that attract teens? kids? older adults? middle-ageers?)
These answers will help you decide on your packaging style: funky, wildly stylish; modern or antique, or country plain, and many more....

My experience: I began with a one Christmas craft table at a small mall, then one small Xmas show in a local town; then learning as I went along, I decided which venues I personally preferred to be at. I didn't like one hot, glass-ceilinged market place cuz the soaps sweated in the heat. I tried outdoors at this market, and it rained, ruining some of my wrappers; I also found out that customers drop bars in the grass, making them pretty dirty, then put them back on the display (or try to :wink: ). I liked an outdoor herb fair when the weather was good, and I re-designed my wrappers so the soap wouldn't slip out of wrapper when a customer picked it up.....etc. etc..

for me it was trial-and-error.

I also had a few different wholesale accounts, and found that some of them gave me grief; one store owner insisted on deciding which scents she wanted. Then she wanted smaller bars, which for me required different wrapping. Another store wanted a specific type of 'spiritual' wrapper. I made it for them, then they found that customers preferred my original wrapper, with a farm scene. They came back to me requesting I change all the wrappers back to my original. Another didn't like the wrapper at all and wanted naked bars..

I now have just one wholesale account I love. It's close by and I can inspect the soaps whenever I want, replacing damaged ones or dirty wrappers. I can clean the shelving when I choose to. (Store shelves can get neglected and make the product look dirty).

I like home shows, where I control the flow of traffic.

but once in awhile, it's fun to try out an entirely new locale.

Whatever you choose, good luck to ya! and HTH!
 

jenmarie82

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Thank you all for posting your advice. I guess what I'm having the most trouble with is finding a way to draw customers to my M&P. I really wanted to have all natural soaps but the M&P that really sells and catches people's attention isn't going to be all natural. I don't know how to word my home page on my website to include the M&P with dye so it won't scare people off.

Plus I'm so limited right now. I only have a few products to work with. I would love to have an endless supply of EO's but I only have 2 small bottles as I can't afford to just buy a wide variety of them. How did everyone else get started? Did you just start out with a few scents and then build up from there? I want to be able to offer my customers a wide array of scents but right now all I have are FO's from the local craft store.

And about my niche market....I would love to focus on a "country" theme. That's what my website design is. I also want to reach moms with children and babies or just women in general who love to pamper themselves. As far as my packaging I want to have some bars wrapped in natural paper with raffia and others wrapped a little fancier. So I guess basically have a supply that's 1/2 and 1/2. Half natural like and half really fancy.

And I'm just starting out as most of you know so I don't have an established customer base yet. I have no idea how to do that. There's a lady that said she would place a wholesale order with me this week but I haven't heard from her. I would love to place some of my soap in bed and breakfasts or even local hotels but no one is going for it. It's so hard to convince people. It's just hard to get going to begin with! I mean, there's insurance, which I don't have yet...can't afford it yet. Business licensce, a good website ( i think mine needs lots of improvement but i don't know where to start), etc... It's exhausting!
 

pepperi27

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MP soaps need to be wrapped in saran wrap before doing any other sort of packaging during the summer because the bars will sweat. If your just starting out I would suggest going slow. I made mp for quite some time before selling it because although it is the easiest thing to make, you still need to test them out. I made a bar a while ago, added just oil and fragrance and it sweated a lot because of the fragrance. It was a brand new fragrance but guess it didn't want to stick to the soap. Like I said take your time and don't rush yourself.
 

The Queen

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It is always in everyones best interest to know what you are selling before you sell it.
 

Harlow

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I agree with queenie, it sounds as though you are putting the horse before the cart.

I do not mean this to be ugly, but is obvious by your beginner level questions, that you are not advanced enough in your knowledge base to be safely & successfully selling yet. I know that is not what you want to hear, but it is the truth. You have a thirst for knowledge & that is good, but it would be beneficial, on many levels, to focus on expand your knowledge base before jumping the gun & selling items before you are ready.
 

jenmarie82

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What kind of lengthy research do i need to do in order to make M&P soap? Besides the business aspect of it. I have a few recipes that I've been using for a long time now and i love them. The more complicated M&P soaps, yes i would have to spend more time on.
 

beachgurl

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Jen, you can't go out there with a mundane or shoddy product .. you'll ruin your chances of business survival. Small businesses have a high attrition rate to being with; 50% fail in the first five years (or something like that). You need to plan, you need to know what your business needs, learn about your markets, figure out a marketing mix, analyze you finances, know you exact costs, develop relationships with suppliers, etc. If you have a family .. I wouldn't sell a single bar without insurance. You can get it for like $500 (per year) through the Guild. I don't think you understand that you could become homeless, carless, assetless, etc if you get sued and there's a judgement against you. They CAN and WILL take everything. They don't give a crap if you're just starting out or don't have the money. I just finished up my HR degree .. and 90% of what I learned was how to avoid a lawsuit.

Could you sell soap for years and never have a lawsuit .. probably .. but what happens when someone does sue you. Not only will you have to pay whatever the judgement is .. you gotta cover legal fees and it's a lot of heartache. Everyone here's trying to tell you this so you don't become a statistic. Nobody can tell you what to do, nobody can tell you how to market your product; you have to go out and do it yourself. You have to come up with your own recipes ... you have to have your own ideas .. and this is a great place to get those creative and business ideas flowing .. but nobody can do all these things for you; all we can do is help point you in the right direction. You must empower yourself through learning about the trade, the industry, your local markets, techniques, ingredients, and other types of research if you want to get there.
 
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