Too many different scents to choose from?

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I remember when i started out and only had a small range of soap. I was going to limit my range to some regular fragrances that people would come back for.
I had about 12 or so that I kept in stock:
Beer Soap
Karma Chameleon ( my Lush dupe)
Oat Milk and Oatmeal
Pumice/scrubby/gardener soap
Seascape ( ocean scene and scent)
Lavender and Liquorice
Lime and Coconut
Love Spell
Rose
Pink Musk
Cactus Flower
Ione Swirl ( always some floral scent - varying )
Confetti Soap - varying scent ( chance to try out new FOs)
Charcoal Swirl ( Black Currant Absinthe FO)
Black Raspberry Vanilla
Fig and Rhubarb.

I would sell out of these within a few months of having them, and have another batch on the go ready to sell.
Now, I just did a quick count and found that i have 45 different soaps on my website. 45!! How did that happen? I believe this is why I still have 3 bars of Karma Chameleon sitting on my shelf that are a year old now, some Rose, Beer, Lavender & Liquorice and Fig & Rhubarb that are coming up to 11 months , AND 5 bars of BRV that are well over 6 months old. I mean - who ever heard or BRV not flying off the shelves? I've even stopped making the seascape because the last lot sat around so long that I thought I wouldn't bother making it again as it had obviously fallen out of favour with the customers.

So my question is - have I spread myself too thin? Should I stop being silly and trying all the FOs ever made to find the 'magic' ones that sell best? Shall I pare it back to just the basics again and allow myself one or two alternating new FOs per month? If they turn out to be a hit I can add them to my range and perhaps delete ones that are not so popular anymore?

I think my problem is that I'm a creative type. I'm driven by creating new things, and this has led me down the garden path. Don't get me wrong - I'm selling more soap now than I ever have, but to me it seems a little out of control. I worry that if someone buys a bar that is too old, that it could lose its scent quickly our worse - go rancid! I don't want to have have a ton of soap sitting here that is nearing the year-old mark especially if it's only one of those and two of those. If it was all bars of the same scent then I will know that it's not worth making again, but these are (or were) popular soaps that people would come and ask for by name.

A li'l help here would be greatly appreciated.

TIA :)
 
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I am no help, but am following because I am also in the too many scents boat. I lugged 42 types to my last fair, 12 of which are fall/winter/holiday specific. I did sell a wide variety and am still remaking the staples, but at some point that's likely to change with so many options right? I have at least 30 scents I haven't even tested yet. 😬
 
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45 seems like a lot, but there is also something for everyone. 🥰
I am a terrible influence and zero help here, because I’d rather say something to try. Before I made soap, I would buy every bar my farmers market soap lady had of Red Clover Tea. I just made my first batch of it that may or may not be mostly for me. It wasn’t easy to find, either - only MMS and NS, I think.
Have you tried it, @KiwiMoose? I know preferences vary for scents but I have gotten so many people hooked on it and several of us would try to get to her first to grab them all. 🌸
 
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45 seems like a lot, but there is also something for everyone. 🥰
I am a terrible influence and zero help here, because I’d rather say something to try. Before I made soap, I would buy every bar my farmers market soap lady had of Red Clover Tea. I just made my first batch of it that may or may not be mostly for me. It wasn’t easy to find, either - only MMS and NS, I think.
Have you tried it, @KiwiMoose? I know preferences vary for scents but I have gotten so many people hooked on it and several of us would try to get to her first to grab them all. 🌸
Can't get it here - but I'm a huge fan of White tea. HUGE fan. Oh! I left it off my list up there ^.
 

Relle

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I would sell off cheaply, the odd bars that are left, if they haven't gone by now, they won't (how do I know - past experience). I would limit the popular to 6 only (I did), then start making new ones that you can add slowly and probably stick to about 20 all up. I found too many choices and they can't make a decision. By now your regulars would like a change of scent, just tell them your keeping a limited number in the range with new scents changing.

So my question is - have I spread myself too thin? Should I stop being silly and trying all the FOs ever made to find the 'magic' ones that sell best? Shall I pare it back to just the basics again and allow myself one or two alternating new FOs per month? If they turn out to be a hit I can add them to my range and perhaps delete ones that are not so popular anymore?
Simple answer is - yes.

BTW I love white tea/ginger, don't think they have it here now.
 
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I would sell off cheaply, the odd bars that are left, if they haven't gone by now, they won't (how do I know - past experience). I would limit the popular to 6 only (I did), then start making new ones that you can add slowly and probably stick to about 20 all up. I found too many choices and they can't make a decision. By now your regulars would like a change of scent, just tell them your keeping a limited number in the range with new scents changing.


Simple answer is - yes.

BTW I love white tea/ginger, don't think they have it here now.
Thanks Relle. I was thinking I could ask on my social media if people have favourites in my range already and whether they have a favourite fragrance that they would like me to make. Also ask my specific regulars if they just want to to try new scents all the time, or if they want to stick to a regular selection - stuff like that.
There are some advantages of soap that has been sticking around too long - those end up in my shower! I do worry about selling them if they are too old, and then someone buying them at a year old and leaving them in their undies drawer for a other 6 months only to pull out a rancid soap. it's nightmare stuff!
 

TheGecko

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When was the last time you reviewed your sales figures? How many of which scents are you selling in a year? Which scent do you struggle to keep in stock?

I have about a dozen scented soaps and my Bare Naked that I stock on a fairly regular basis; while my Bare Naked isn’t a huge seller, it doesn’t cost extra to have it in stock and I have one customer that loves the smell. Then I make my “One Hit Wonders”…these two or three 10-bar batches of whatever catches my eye…err…nose. This is me trying to strike a balance between being a loyalist and wanting to maybe trying something new. If the new soap doesn’t sell or doesn’t sell well, the soap goes in the donation box and the scent gets added to the ‘no fly’ list. If it does well…I might bring it back after a few months for a ‘come back tour’ or ‘return engagement’ or even ‘back by popular demand’ and if it is wildly popular, I might exchange it for a lessor selling stock soap.

I can’t even imagine having 45 scents available…I have trouble just making the one I have different enough so I only have to look at to know what it is. I bow down to you dear madam.
 
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When was the last time you reviewed your sales figures? How many of which scents are you selling in a year? Which scent do you struggle to keep in stock?

I have about a dozen scented soaps and my Bare Naked that I stock on a fairly regular basis; while my Bare Naked isn’t a huge seller, it doesn’t cost extra to have it in stock and I have one customer that loves the smell. Then I make my “One Hit Wonders”…these two or three 10-bar batches of whatever catches my eye…err…nose. This is me trying to strike a balance between being a loyalist and wanting to maybe trying something new. If the new soap doesn’t sell or doesn’t sell well, the soap goes in the donation box and the scent gets added to the ‘no fly’ list. If it does well…I might bring it back after a few months for a ‘come back tour’ or ‘return engagement’ or even ‘back by popular demand’ and if it is wildly popular, I might exchange it for a lessor selling stock soap.

I can’t even imagine having 45 scents available…I have trouble just making the one I have different enough so I only have to look at to know what it is. I bow down to you dear madam.
I'm pretty slack at keep that tight of a rein on sales figures by fragrance. In fact, I don't go down to that level of detail at all. My website does do an analysis by product type - so that would be painted stones, vs soap for the main part. But I've never really looked into it that closely. Add to that that my market stall sales don't go through any analysis or inventory at all ( aside from a written record kept in a notebook - again stating 'soap' or 'stones' or 'beads' etc). If it were my main source of income I would be a lot more particular about it. This sideline currently supplements my main income by about 3% - if that. When i retire I will look at being more business focussed.

I don't struggle to keep any fragrance or type of soap in stock. i used to have some that were very popular and I made more regularly, but since I've increased the range a lot of my regular customers just want to try all the new ones and have a decreased interest in 'old favourites'. So I've kind of made my own problem here I think.

Thanks for helping me to think this through.
 

TheGecko

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If it were my main source of income I would be a lot more particular about it. This sideline currently supplements my main income by about 3% - if that. When i retire I will look at being more business focussed.
I hear you there. I have a full-time job so right now, with all the starts and stops over the last two years, it’s been more like a self-supporting hobby than an income producing business. But since business is my business (I’m an accountant), that how I went into it. My problem right now is that I need to get our of the kitchen and into the garage because I need room, but I can’t get into the garage because I swear the boxes are giving birth to boxes!

And it sucks because I’ve stuff sitting on the back burner that I need to attend to. I have a guy who wants to do my marketing and who will set up a website for me. The cost of the website will be bartered in soap, the marketing will be a percentage of business he brings in. But I need space to work. I have a kid (early 20s) who is really interested in learning how to make soap, he is fascinated by the process and he is very creative. But my kitchen is too small to share with another soap maker…my daughter and I discovered that and we were using smaller molds. And I just last week got a line to market my Lotion Bars…I was planning on making several batches and dropping them off at a bunch of places, but came down with a double ear infection plus. I can’t hear, I can stand for long without tipping over and it will be Wednesday at the earliest before I’m fit again.
 

dibbles

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While there is really nothing wrong with having a lot of different scents to choose from, it seems that you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by it. I do think it is also a little overwhelming for people ordering from a website as opposed to being able to see and smell the actual soaps at a market. I would figure out a list of your regulars that you want to have available. You could pare the list down by thinking about the soap making - are there any that you really dislike making? Are there any from your list that could be combined? For example, if I were a fan of the oatmeal/oat milk soap but it didn't have a dedicated fragrance anyway I probably wouldn't care if it was always made with Rhubarb and Fig. If I was a fan of Rhubarb and Fig I wouldn't care if it was an oatmeal soap. Having a choice of your two or three best selling florals always available is fine, but does it really matter if they are a confetti or Ione Swirl soap? I don't know - just a thought.

Then you could have an offering of 'Limited Edition' soaps that you can offer that will satisfy your creative needs for design and let you have fun in the FO playground. I completely understand that struggle.

Or just carry on with what you are doing if that makes you happy. And where is the patchouli?????
 

JoyfulSudz

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I totally get it too. I keep telling myself I will narrow down my scents to a dozen or so "basics," but there's always a tantalizing new one I can't resist when I'm ordering. And don't get me started on those essential oil blends: I don't even need to order anything to try yet another intriguing sounding blend from eo.calc or somewhere.

I just packed about 35 different soaps for an upcoming market and am not sure how to effectively display that many.

I will narrow down my varieties...I will narrow down my varieties...I will narrow down my varieties...I will narrow down my varieties..........
 
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I simply cannot give you advice since I do not know your market. I did up to five outdoor markets per week for many years in a very competitive market so I had a large selection. Even in my weekly markets, we took 40-50 scent choices out to every market, my average was 40 different scents. I set up one full 2x4 table with several levels. While some sold better than others it is what gave me the edge at my outdoor markets. I had literally a hundred or more fragrances in stock. Was it overkill maybe or maybe not, but I outlasted every soap seller that showed up in the markets I regularly sold at. At my holiday markets, I took a larger selection. You have to access what works for you. Below is an example of how many I took to market every week.
 

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I simply cannot give you advice since I do not know your market. I did up to five outdoor markets per week for many years in a very competitive market so I had a large selection. Even in my weekly markets, we took 40-50 scent choices out to every market, my average was 40 different scents. I set up one full 2x4 table with several levels. While some sold better than others it is what gave me the edge at my outdoor markets. I had literally a hundred or more fragrances in stock. Was it overkill maybe or maybe not, but I outlasted every soap seller that showed up in the markets I regularly sold at. At my holiday markets, I took a larger selection. You have to access what works for you. Below is an example of how many I took to market every week.
Yes - I see you had a ton of variety! But i only go to markets about once or twice a month (and only in the summer) so i also rely on my web sales which people can't smell. It looks like you did really well with your range, but you were totally committed and had enough markets per week to justify it (where did you find the time to actually make the soap??)
 

TheGecko

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I simply cannot give you advice since I do not know your market. I did up to five outdoor markets per week for many years in a very competitive market so I had a large selection. Even in my weekly markets, we took 40-50 scent choices out to every market, my average was 40 different scents. I set up one full 2x4 table with several levels. While some sold better than others it is what gave me the edge at my outdoor markets. I had literally a hundred or more fragrances in stock. Was it overkill maybe or maybe not, but I outlasted every soap seller that showed up in the markets I regularly sold at. At my holiday markets, I took a larger selection. You have to access what works for you. Below is an example of how many I took to market every week.
My first craft fair I did really well (for someone with no real clue); my sister and I split a table; this year we got separate tables because we had more stuff.

This year I did okay, but less than expected since I had a more polished appearance. And I know that it had to do with the fact that we ended up with 8' tables instead of 6'. Now my sister was able to adapt to the extra two feet by placing a couple of extra inches between her bags and cards and she had her iPad in the middle with space around it for custom orders (she had photos of options and fabrics). It wasn't until the end of the second day that her table started to look a little empty. That extra 2' didn't work out so well for me...created too much space between my display racks and despite having putting out every bar of soap and lotion bar...it still looked 'empty'. Lesson learned...you can never have too much stuff on your table.
 

lucycat

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It sounds like you are like everyone else. I am no different but:
1) You don't have to have a log ready to go after the last bar is sold. Will your customer not buy or will they purchase another scent? Most of the time another scent. Waiting a month or two after a log is sold before making may not decrease the total scents you are making but it will decrease the number of scents you have at any one point in time, which is the more important number.
2) Consider a set number of scents to retire each year, regardless. There will always be something you want to add and should. New is important.
3) 12 was probably unrealistic and you may not want to go back to that. I decide a max number of soaps in floral, herbal, fruity, etc that I want in inventory. I don't make another floral until my inventory is below that number. I am not strict on the number of scents but just my categories. If I know I can't sell more than x floral soaps I had better not make them. It keeps me from making only my favorites.
 

TheGecko

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1) You don't have to have a log ready to go after the last bar is sold. Will your customer not buy or will they purchase another scent? Most of the time another scent.
Maybe, maybe not. I'm a "loyalist"...if you don't have International Delights Irish Cream or Pepsi Real Sugar or blah blah blah...I'll either do without or go somewhere else. And I have quite a few customers that are the same way...this is what they want and if I run out, that is a lost sale...and potentially a lost customer if they can go elsewhere.

In fact, it's the reason why I got into making soap. I had been buying GMS BRV for close to a decade...then the gal who made the soap retired and the company got someone else and while I'm sure it was fine soap...she didn't make any BRV and so I never bought soap from them again.
 

Michelle0803

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This thread comes at the perfect time! We currently carry 30 different scents of soap and run this as a side hustle. We are in the process of downsizing to about half of those scents.

When I started this "business" I set everything up like a big business and decided to track every product. I review our sales in-depth twice a year in addition to monthly reviews and sales by event. We are selling off all of those products that are slow sellers or underperformers to make room for our revamp. By tracking by scent and product we have gotten a great insight into the scents and products that people love vs. those that they just like. Some of our best sellers have come about because we have listened to customer requests and tracked the sales. This also allows us to free up shelf space for new products.

Our website and point-of-sales system track all of our sales which makes review time so much easier. Everything gets input and tracked.

We will carry our tried and true with a max of 4 or 5 scents in each category (men's, women/general, specialty) and then have our limited edition soaps so that I can still try out new scents to see how they are received.

By doing all of this we still get to try new scents, can continue those that are loved and sell well, spend more time researching new possible products, and downsize so that we have more time for family.
 
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