In less than a decade the internet has created significant changes to the skin care industry. From the way you learn about new products to how you promote and sell your business services, the professional market is more connected than ever before. Through tweets and posts, information is so accessible, immediate and easy to share that it is impossible to ignore the significant impact the internet has had on our lives and our industry.
Another reality of this new era is that skin care consumers can purchase almost every type of product online. Spa quality product shopping is no longer the exclusive domain of the brick and mortar business model. For many years, skin care professionals were the ‘go to’ resource for advice, professional services and access to skin care brands that were not available to mass market retailers. The market niche professionals had with exclusive spa brands has eroded substantially.
While many customers continue to be loyal to professionals for hands-on services, the availability of online brands has created a far more competitive sales experience for retail sales. The ease of online shopping for professional brands, often sold at discounted prices, means you have to work harder and possibly at less attractive margins if you are selling in a traditional setting.
Fortunately with disruption and shift, new opportunities are often created for those who understand the need to change and adjust to the new normal. Where technology has reduced exclusivity it has also opened the door to expanded sales potential. Selling online to a global market is now quite affordable, with many turnkey e-commerce sites and professionals available that help small businesses to create an online presence with minimal set up cost and technological expertise.
With internet sales expected to reach over $400 billion by 2018 it’s surprising that only 28% of small businesses currently take advantage of this growing sales sector. While this percentage is likely to increase dramatically in the years to come, in the meantime companies that operate solely as online retailers are capturing an increasingly larger percentage of the market.
Clients will often seek professional advice for services or product information but will then complete the sale online
as trends indicate consumers believe that online sales offer greater discounts than face to face sales. With this in mind the question is how do you protect your business from online competition?
As a professional, you want to offer products that reflect your high standards for efficacy and ingredients. With many fine brands to choose from it isn’t hard to find great products for professional use, however, you may find selling them online to be more challenging. Some brands do not allow online sales by unauthorized dealers and others prohibit online sales altogether.
A great solution that addresses your need for fine quality and exclusivity is selling your own private label products. In fact almost everything that we purchase today is a form of private label. There are very few name brands that actually manufacture their own products in almost any industry you can think of. Products are produced by a third party exclusively for their customer using their client’s branding. However, working directly with a manufacturer is a luxury that most small businesses can’t afford due to minimum order volumes, but there are a few companies who offer premium, highly effective skin and body care with affordable minimum buy-ins and start-up fees.
While the internet has changed the rules of commerce, boutique private label skin care manufacturing provides an opportunity for businesses of all sizes to create and offer their own product line to a much larger audience. When you think of iconic brands like Nike (swoosh) or Chanel (C), you immediately recognize the product because of the logo/ brand. You often consider purchasing the product because of brand recognition and you value the item because the brand has an implied prestige. The value of skin care branding to a business is substantial, particularly when you look to the future, when it’s time to sell or transition out of your business. Capitalize on the enormous value your branded products have to offer as an extension of your practice.
One industry leader in private label is Vitelle Labs, a Canadian manufacturer based in Vancouver. Started in 1997, Vitelle Labs is known for their innovation, quality and specialized formulations. With a preference for natural ingredients and small batch manufacturing, Vitelle offers an extensive range of skin and body care, makeup and custom formulation services. From entry level startups with only one or two sku’s and a minimum order of only $250, to full turnkey packages which include product photography, brochures and marketing materials, Vitelle is a one-stop shop. Their broad range of cutting-edge products, arrive fully labeled, in packaging you’ve chosen from their in-stock collections, ready to price and sell.
Vitelle has helped hundreds of companies navigate product and packaging selection, sampling and testing and label design. In an effort to make customers comfortable and confident with their choices, they will provide the support you need to get you started on the right track.
One nice feature of a scalable private label business model is the very affordable initial investment required. Low minimums allow you to evaluate which products meet your needs and test the market with little financial exposure and risk. Fast turn-around times help optimize stock levels and move products that are top sellers, an ideal situation when you are catering to your clients and a 24-7 online market.
Once those first steps are taken and your brand is created and established there are many innovative avenues through which to market your line beyond your own practice and website. Numerous companies have been successful building their brand through a small or large scale digital marketing plan and in collaboration with bloggers and online retailers such as Amazon.
The silver lining of the internet age is the boundless opportunity it offers and is limited only by how big you dream.
There are no gate keepers in this open information age, nothing preventing you from growing your business and surpassing what you may have thought possible. It is difficult to imagine where we will be in 10 years’ time, but there is little doubt that customers will always continue to seek out excellent services and products.
Take a moment to consider where you want your practice to go and what your vision is for the growth and health of your business.
Aleks Vranicic, L.E.
VP Sales & Technical Training