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Only SIX fragrances??

Discussion in 'General Business Forum' started by amd, May 14, 2018.

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  1. May 14, 2018 #1

    amd

    amd

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    Some of you may have seen this from Amy Warden of Great Cakes Soaps, but for those who haven't, I thought I would start a conversation on thoughts about this.
    Here's her full blog post: https://www.greatcakessoapworks.com.../my-top-5-takeaways-from-the-hscg-conference/

    Specifically discussing this snippet...
    upload_2018-5-14_13-4-54.png

    Honestly, I read this and about fell over. Only SIX fragrances? I don't think I could do it. I mean, not just because I'm a FO ho, but because I don't think I pick 6 fragrances that would consistently have at least one that someone would buy.

    Looking at my best seller list, I have 10 that I consistently make in large batches at least once every two months (more if I'm doing a lot of shows). Then I have smaller batch quantities that I make to meet the needs for men's soaps, kids soaps, "dirty hippy" soaps, and such. Those smaller batch quantities make up roughly 25% of my sales. I'm not comfortable losing that much in sales. (actually, I really don't like losing any sales, so if I don't have something specific I try to reel them in with a custom order, which only works 25% of the time.)

    I do get the point of customers being overwhelmed, and I've seen it happen where customers have picked up two or three bars, smelled them and then started to walk away, already tired of trying to find a scent they like. That's usually where I step in and start asking what kind of scents do they like, and take some of the burden of smelling all the soap from them. I've also been working on improving my soap display and packaging so that the fragrance names are more visible, so people don't necessarily have to handle each bar of soap to find one that they like.

    Maybe I'm being ranty, but isn't it our job as sellers to guide our customers to best choices, regardless of how many or few choices are available?

    And, by the way, if you sell... how many fragrances do you typically carry? Right now, I think I'm pushing upwards of 30. (Which reminds me, I need to order another display rack for my show on Saturday.)
     
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  2. May 14, 2018 #2

    cmzaha

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    I cannot say I have ever lost a sale by having to many choices. I have seen vendors with less than a dozen choices do very poorly at markets. I take and have since day one 40-50 different selections. I am including in this vegan, non-vegan, oatmeal, milk, no milk etc. Many times I have surprised customers when they ask for something unusual and I say yep I have it, then they look dumbfounded and walk away, although sometimes they are really looking for something they cannot find and end up being surprised when I do have it. It is also a way for a customer to not say they don't want anything and are just looking... I would not waste my time nor energy going to a market with so few soaps.

    The people saying such have never been up against me at a market or craft fair

    All my soaps are shrink wrapped with the label inside so they stay clean. If I have an old batch not selling well I will pull them, re-wrap, sometimes change the name and take them back out in a month or so. Many times that gets the sales going on the poor selling soap, other wise they get pulled and either donated or used in confetti soap or re-batched into my x-scrubby mud bars.

    I use a very simple display with levels. This is an older pic from a past Christmas Season, but you can get the general idea. Each area is 4 tables that extendable legs
    20141217_131137.jpg
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 16, 2018
  3. May 14, 2018 #3

    lenarenee

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    I've read, and been told by marketers that less is better. However, I wonder if the "studies" that led to this conclusion were based on shopping habits in a brick and mortar store, without including shopping habits at shows and markets. For Target/grocery store shopping six scents is about for me - I want to get in, get done, get out. Going to shows and markets is a whole different kind of shopping - it's fun and exploratory - meandering and investigating.

    Example: came across a brand new Bath and Body Works yesterday. Haven't been to one in over 5 years (smelly is not my thing) . The big sign said candles were buy 2 get 2 - and I was struck with the motivation for a little candle adventure. Yes - waaayyy too many things to smell. Left the store for fresh air and dove back in. But since this completely a frivolous adventure I happily stuck with it.

    A bit off topic; I didn't like very many of the scents at all; kind of messy, unfocused fragrances. There was one very similar to Salty Mariner.
    The candles burn hot - full melt pool in an hour and I pre-trimmed the wicks! The fragrance does fill the room well, and a clean burn though.
     
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  4. May 14, 2018 #4

    shunt2011

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    I, with Carolyn, I carry 30-35 scents and have never found it a deterrent for purchases. In scrubs I carry 10 fragrances and lip balm 12 or so. Many times I’ve had what another vendor didn’t.
     
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  5. May 14, 2018 #5

    amd

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    Oh my! Carolyn, that looks like a booth I want to stop and explore. If I were a customer at a show, I would instantly be drawn to this because there is so much, there is probably something for me in it and it would be worth my time to stop and chat. That was one thing I noticed at the junk market I went to on Saturday (as a shopper), the 10 or so vendors who had soap, just did not have much of a selection. Three of them had almost identical fragrance lineups - which I get does happen, and I do carry some of the same fragrances - but they only had a handful of fragrances. There was nothing "different" or unique to make me interested as a customer. My husband tells me I'm jaded because I have different expectations (of myself) as a seller.

    I agree - for many people coming to a show is a several hours expedition, although even that seems to be changing too. I had lunch today with a friend who organizes two annual craft shows each year, plus does her own rounds of shows. Her show sales have been poor, but yet she has had one of her best years so far. The shows haven't been well trafficked, most people don't want to spend hours at one. Her last show she was setup at the door, and she said a lot of people came in, grabbed the sheet with the vendor list, perused the vendor list and either went directly to what they wanted, or turned and left. ETA: most of her sales are coming from online sales.
     
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  6. May 14, 2018 #6

    Obsidian

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    I like to buy other soapers products at craft fairs. The only time I have a hard time with a large selection is when they have weird names that give me no hint at what it is.

    I don't care about clever names, I'd rather see plain lavender instead of purple haze. That way I can avoid a nasty scent, soapers don't like it when you smell a soap and make a gagging face because their angel wings soap smells like cat pee(ylang ylang).

    I'm ok with smelling a few mystery scents but will stop and walk away after 8 or so. I've only met one soaper who actually spoke to me about her soaps, her ingredients, scents and why she makes the soap she does. I ended up buying a overpriced soap I knew I wouldn't really like due to the high butter % but I was ok with that, I just wanted to support her.
     
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  7. May 14, 2018 #7

    cmzaha

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    To me Eucalyptus smells like cat pee pee :eek: yet it is a great seller for me, go figure... I was never clever with names and have always named my soap for the fragrance. Sometimes customers ask me how I came up with the name and I honestly tell them it is the fragrance name. Heck, with my memory these days I would forget what fragrance the clever named soap would be :lol:

    Oh my! Carolyn, that looks like a booth I want to stop and explore. Thankyou
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2018
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  8. May 14, 2018 #8

    amd

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    I'm in the same boat re: memory. I name my soaps based on the fragrance - most of the time. I tried a few creative names, but they don't sell unless it's obvious like my "Melon-choly Madness" soap which obviously smells like melons. Most people don't get my sense of humor to start with, so I don't try anymore. Good point about simplicity with soap names.

    I kind of like it when people make gagging faces, it helps me steer them towards something they might like. Lavender makes you gag, here try this ocean scented soap. :)
     
  9. May 14, 2018 #9

    SunRiseArts

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    lol I can relate!
     
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  10. May 15, 2018 #10

    cerelife

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    I honestly don't mean to have weird names (and I can't say they're particularly clever), but sometimes a name pops in my head while I'm soaping that has nothing to do with the name of the FO. It's more about what the scent evokes to me, if that makes sense? Like Peak's Parisian Twilight instantly reminded me of the Glen Campbell song "Southern Nights" - if that song had a smell, this would be it! Or FB's Sweet Orange and Chili Pepper - in my mind that's Cajun Sunshine.
    Sometimes the name comes from what's happening when I soap...the first time I soaped with FB's dupe of Lush Flying Foxes I had fully intended to name the soap Dirty Jasmine. But the Minou (our monkey cat) was yowling because he hates not being into everything and he is NOT allowed in my soaping area, so the name of that soap became Naughty Monkey. I was also soaping Daystar's Toffee Sugar Crunch in that session, so as a yin to the yang, that soap was named Sugar Monkey.
    Then again, sometimes it works the other way around for me. I'll be thinking of a song/book/poem/etc. that I love and think: If that (whatever) had a smell, what would it be? So I start searching through my trove of FO/EO to play around in order to find the perfect scent or blend that speaks to me, and try it out in soap. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. But it's always fun!
    I know that everyone isn't going to get my sense of humor; or care about my literary references and silly stories, and I'm totally OK with that.
    I make soap because it makes me happy. Part of the fun is in taking artistic liberty to choose the names that make me smile :)
     
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  11. May 15, 2018 #11

    shunt2011

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    I love your thought process and names. I'm not good a it either like others. So, mine pretty much are what they fragrances are called. I've renamed a couple because they weren't appropriate (Lick Me All Over) but otherwise they are what they are. Wish I had more imagination for it though.
     
  12. May 15, 2018 #12

    amd

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    @cerelife do you sell at shows? If you do, do you label a description of the scent? My thinking (and experience) is that creative names are ok, if I can clearly identify what it is going to smell like. I've shopped other soapers websites where they had a Blue Lagoon soap but no description of the scent. So I ordered it thinking, it'll be either a watery scent, or some kind of tropical scent... it was lemongrass. A blue lemongrass soap. A lovely soap, but not what I was expecting (and I am not a huge lemongrass fan, so it would have been nice to know, I would have ordered something else). I do like when soapers have signs that say "Wet Dog soap, smells like swamp water", but typically these soapers have 10-15 soaps. When sellers get into the range 20+ it gets harder to make the signs, keep a neat looking display, etc. Of course, this is my two cents based on my own experiences. Some people manage signage for large quantities very well, I am not one of those people, and my lineup changes too much to maintain the signs.

    This is the problem I have for "Butt Naked in Bed". It's on my schedule to make this week, but I really don't want it in my store under that name. The scent is amazing, but has nothing to do with the name. I'll probably end up calling it "Fruity Vanilla" or something.
     
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  13. May 16, 2018 #13

    cerelife

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    I do sell at shows and festivals, but with 40+ soaps in my regular line of soaps (and I usually have seasonal soaps as well), there's no room for signage on my tables nor room on the labels to describe the scents. But I'm one of those vendors who never sits down! I greet everyone with a "Hello, feel free to browse and sniff. If you have any questions, please let me know." and then I leave them alone. I try to find a happy medium between the aggressive vendors who watch everything a customer picks up and wants to tell them all about it, and the passive vendor who ignores you and you feel like you're bothering them if you have a question.
    I do have descriptions of the scents on my website for the very reason you mentioned. I also have pictures not of my soaps, but what the scent conveys to me personally. I agree totally with the example you mentioned about a Blue Lagoon soap with no scent information and then smelling only of lemongrass...I would have been a little ticked off as well! It's hard to make scent choices without actually being able smell the soap. I hope I'm doing a little better than that, but please feel free to critique my site and give me constructive criticism! Before this thread it never even occurred to me that customers would be put off by weird names :)
    This is one description of the scent for one of my soaps per my website:
    Something Wicked This Way Comes
    Imagine ominous thunderclouds rolling in over freshly harvested hay fields on an autumn day - you have that foreboding sense of something coming before you even see the first strike of lightning in the distance. I love thunderstorms, and this complex blend of nettle, hay, oak, ozone, and musk perfectly captures that feeling of anticipation when a storm is brewing!
    www.minoubleu.com

    And Carolyn I keep forgetting to say that I LOVE your display!! I would most likely spend my entire Christmas Fair budget at your booth!!!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 20, 2018
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  14. May 16, 2018 #14

    shunt2011

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    Carolyn, I too love your display.
     
  15. May 16, 2018 #15

    cmzaha

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    Thankyou all, but I really only posted the pic to how how easy it is to build levels. Normally my tables are covered in back not red. What I do with my labels I will also put a short description under the name of the soap, a note if it is made with shea, oatmeal, non-scrubby etc. I use the word with to separate it from the Soap Name, I have only used Sex on the Beach, and Monkey Farts which I did re-name it, because felt it was not appropriate, especially with children coming to the booth
     
  16. May 16, 2018 #16

    amd

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    @cerelife I sell the same way, I want them to know I'm here, but I don't want to be shoving stuff in their faces. I do watch to see what people pick up and smell, so that way if they make that "bad smell" face I can steer them in a different direction, but mostly I let them browse. We live in a rural area (and really, slightly uncultured) so there are some soap names that I have to explain - like Nag Champa. Almost everyone comments on what a weird name that is, so I have to explain what it is and why it has that name. Also... I have been to your website before! Your soaps are lovely, and I enjoy your little stories in the descriptions. They are the perfect length, not so long that I get bored, and wonderful descriptions. I can't remember how I found you, I think it was early in my selling days when I was just getting my website setup and looking at other soapers sites to see what information I needed to include. Don't change a thing.
     
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  17. May 16, 2018 #17

    amd

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    Anyways, my point of this thread wasn't to tell other people what to do, or criticize for soap names, but really to find out if six fragrances is a reasonable thing. I was kind of questioning my own business (I looked last night and I currently have 36 different soaps, 3 bubble scoops, and 4 lip balms), if I was overdoing things or if I seem to be on track for a reasonable rate of expansion. The soapers I saw at the show last Saturday, they had a very limited selection of soaps - I think the most I saw was one booth had a 4ft table filled - but they also had lots of B&B items. After the discussions here, and thinking on it more, I think that the six fragrances idea is insane and rubbish and not how I want to do my business. I want people to have choices. Lots of choices. And if people really want soap, they won't get overwhelmed by too many choices, they'll be filling their little basket to get the sale price. My instinct - just from my own shopping style - is that people who really want something don't get overwhelmed and NOT buy something. The shoppers who buy a bar once and never come back, those are the ones who get overwhelmed and that's not the clientele I want. I want the lady who takes home a sample of Cherry Almond soap and calls me the next day to order five bars for herself and her daughters, and then regularly orders five bars every 3-4 months. These people make me happy, and like @cerelife said I make soap because it makes me happy.

    ETA: thank you all, for you input and the discussion. It was valuable to me.
     
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  18. May 16, 2018 #18

    Lin19687

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    6 is too little. What if someone wanted an Apple but you only had musky or light green grass scents?

    Everyone is different and you need Selection. They don't HAVE to smell them all... but we all do ;)
     
  19. May 16, 2018 #19

    MySoapyHeart

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    My thoughts on just six fragrance options, is that it sounds way too limiting. People are different and people like different things, or a change from the regular thing. If I had to stick with ONLY six fragrances I would not be having any fun making soap, because I like so many different things, and so does my husband and family. Everyone I know love to try different things and if I had only six fragrances instead of 15, I would get bored.

    And besides, you don`t have to paint yourself into a corner either, there is also the oportunity to have a Limited Edition type for fragrances that you want to field test, and if it is a big hit you can enroll it in the regular line-up (by a popular demand etc)

    But even so, I could neeeeever just limit myself with only six. I even struggle with the 8 types I am choosing for my safety assessement...and even then I want to have 8 more asessed so I can do more variations than just 8.

    But just six? Aaaargh... :hairpulling: :rolling:
     
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  20. May 16, 2018 #20

    dixiedragon

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    Of course, I'm not a typical soap customer. But IMO, some fragrances - lavender, vanilla, peppermint - you see everywhere. That's because people like them and they are always popular. However, I think a lot of people are going to be tempted by something a bit different, something they can't pick up anywhere.
     

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