In this part of the course we are going to be looking at the differences between organic and non organic natural skincare products to help you decide which type of products you want to sell in your natural skincare business.

some natural and organic skincare products surrounded by fern leaves

Welcome to Part 6 of the online Skincare Business Course!

Hopefully you have now read through the first five parts of the course:

Organic vs Non Organic Skincare

In this article I talk about organic products, which means they are made with mostly organic ingredients, and natural products, which are made with natural ingredients which are not organic or where the majority of ingredients are not organic.

With your natural skincare or beauty product business you can go one of three ways, you can sell:

  • all organic products

  • all natural products

  • a blend of natural and organic products

So how do you decide?

If you are someone who passionately wants to deal with just organic products then this is probably a no-brainer for you. However, look at your product range. Are you definitely going to be able to source the majority of your ingredients as organic? Depending on what you make and the formulation you might not be able to get all your ingredients as organic, so do your research. Yo also need to look for secondary suppliers (see Part 5 - Natural skincare product development).

It is also worth thinking about the fact that if you are looking at dealing in a totally organic skincare range then your sales price will be higher as the ingredients will cost more.

If you want to sell natural skincare products but don't mind about whether the ingredients are organic, that is absolutely fine. You should be able to sell your products slightly cheaper than organic versions if you want to, or if your formulations and brand are up to it, sell at the same price as organic and make a larger profit, but that is a harder trick to pull off!

You might decide to have a mix of products in your natural skincare range with some high end luxury organic body oils and some natural everyday products such as soaps and hand creams at cheaper prices. This type of approach can work well as you can often make good sales with the everyday products that people need which will bring them to your website or stall. You may then make additional sales of the luxury products from these customers who may buy them as treats or gifts, or at least remember you for the future when they want something special.

There is no right choice here, it is entirely up to you. However, you do need to have faith and conviction behind your choice as this is part of what you will be building your brand on and selling. You will have to base your marketing around this choice and probably talk to people or write your website pages around it.

Think about:

  • What sort of business do you want to be?

  • What sort of product range are you going to sell?

  • What will your unique selling points be for your products?

Think also of your target market, consider who would be your ideal customer and what sort of product they will want and what they will be willing to pay for it, for a reminder see Part 3 - Who are you going to sell to?

The decision on whether to sell organic, non-organic or a mix of both will also affect things like your product costings, branding, printing and labelling.

Some people will immediately think that it is safer to plump for selling a mix of organic and non-organic, and it's true that this is a flexible way to go. The only factor here is that you need to think about your marketing and selling. For example, if you are singing the praises of an organic face cream, how will you also sell the same customer a non organic product from your range?

If you are considering a mix of natural skincare products, one tip would be to try and keep facial products organic such as cleansers, moisturisers and eye creams and keep the non organic products to things like soaps, hand creams and non facial products. I often found that people wanted to put organic products on their face but were slightly more relaxed about the rest of their body as long as the products were natural.

At the end of the day just stopping using mainstream skincare products is a major step forward to ridding your body of unwanted chemicals and potential skin problems. If you are looking for the benefits of changing to natural skincare, take a look at the article on what clean beauty is all about and also the ingredients that you should avoid in your skincare products. Hopefully you can get some good ideas from these articles to help you with your sales and marketing materials and product planning.

Selling organic skincare and cosmetic products

Organic skincare and cosmetic products are made predominantly of organic ingredients. I say predominantly because although it is of course possible to formulate a product that is 100% organic (I had an award winning intensive hand balm that was made with 100% organically produced raw materials) many ingredients are not available in organic form.

Be careful of calling a product ‘organic’ if it contains a small percentage of organic ingredients. There are lots of products out there stating that they are ‘organic’ or are ‘made using organic products’ but actually only contain about 5% organic ingredients!

Consumers are getting savvy about reading ingredient lists now so if you are going down the organic route then try and ensure the formulation has a high percentage of organically produced ingredients in it as you don't want to be accused of green-washing. (Green-washing is when you give misleading information about your products, for example having a product label which states 'organic' when there is hardly any organic ingredients in it).

The advantages and disadvantages of selling organic skincare products:

  • Advantage - some people feel that organic ingredients are far superior to non-organic and that they are more potent in skincare products.

  • Advantage - certain consumers will actively seek out organic products (consider your target market).

  • Advantage - it is something that can be used in your marketing and PR strategy.

  • Advantage – if you already live an organic lifestyle yourself then this will be second nature to you and will help you to sell with passion, especially to like-minded people.

  • Advantage/Disadvantage – the raw materials will cost more, thus increasing your selling price. This can work both ways, being potentially an advantage or a disadvantage. Some people will not pay much for a particular product and others may think the product to be of less quality if they perceive it to be too cheap. (Consider your target market).

  • Advantage/Disadvantage - you could apply for an additional organic certification or accreditation to help showcase the quality of your products. This can be of huge benefit but depending on which certification you go for, it can be costly.

  • Disadvantage – if supplies of an organic ingredient are limited to one or two suppliers you may have difficulty in obtaining supplies at times. One of my suppliers once changed an ingredient I was using in quite a few formulations from a single ingredient to a blended one made of two ingredients. I was unable to obtain a pure single source of this ingredient elsewhere and I had to change a lot of product formulations which meant that all the CPSR's (cosmetic product safety reports) for all the products involved needed to be re-done and all my labels and product literature which showed the ingredients had to be re-printed. Not an insignificant cost I can tell you.

Selling natural skincare and cosmetic products

An alternative is the natural route, using natural products which are not organic, or only contain a small amount of organic ingredients. Again there are some potential advantages and disadvantages as follows.

Advantages and disadvantages of selling natural skincare products

  • Advantage - there are possibly more ingredients available to you to formulate with if you do not have to stick to a high percentage of organically produced ingredients in your recipes.

  • Advantage - there may be more suppliers for you to compare for availability and price.

  • Advantage - the price of the raw ingredients should be cheaper meaning that your selling price can perhaps be lower than an organic version.

  • Advantage – depending on your target market a lower sales price may be useful for marketing and PR purposes.

  • Disadvantage – there are many natural products on the market – do your research on competitors with the same type of products you intend to sell to see how yours would fit in – what would make them different?

Selling a mix of natural and organic skincare products

This is where you use a blend of both natural and organic raw materials to formulate your product or products. Some products may be all organic, some may use natural but non-organic ingredients and some a mix of organic and natural ingredients.

Advantages and disadvantages of selling a mix of natural and organic skincare products

  • Advantage – you can mix and match ingredients whether organic or non-organic (although once your formulation is done you need to stick with it as this is what you will be certified to sell).

  • Advantage – you can still get the benefit of having some organic ingredients in it, for instance you might make all the essential oils in your products organic and use this as a unique selling point.

  • Advantage – price wise your raw materials should still be less than organic, (depending on the percentage of organic used).

  • Disadvantage – sometimes a product is harder to position in the market, are you natural or organic? Pitching it could be harder if you are neither here nor there and can’t get a point on which you are different or unique. For example, if you use natural ingredients in all your products apart from the essential oils, you could market your products along the lines of ‘contains only organic essential oils’. If you decide to go down this sort of route you need to ensure you know why you think organic essential oils are superior to non organic ones, as this will be your main selling point.

Things to Think About

Think about the following points when trying to decide whether you are going to sell organic, natural or a mix of both in your natural skincare product range.

  • Is an organic formulation of great importance to you? For instance, would you feel uncomfortable marketing and selling a product that was not substantially organic?

  • Do your personal beliefs relate to the product being organic? At the end of the day you have to believe and be passionate in what you are selling.

  • Is your target market likely to be willing to pay a premium price for an organic product or are they more likely to be looking for a cheaper natural skincare product?

  • Do your research on competitors who have a similar products to what you plan to sell and see if you can find a gap in the market or a niche in which to position yourself. It could be your products are specifically for acne or will be the cheapest, or work really well for a particular problem. You need something to make your natural skincare products stand out from the crowd, and that can even be their packaging!

  • Some people see organic as luxury and natural as the same product at a more economical price – consider your target market!

  • Think about your business and how you may want it to develop in the future. Are you hoping to be a luxury brand or a brand that gets more people using natural skincare products at affordable prices?

The above advantages and disadvantages are not an exhaustive list but will hopefully give you some points to think about. Bear in mind whichever form of natural skincare product you decide to make it will come down to where you buy your ingredients from and in what quantities. It may be that you can source organic ingredients in bulk at a cheaper rate than buying non-organic or natural ingredient in smaller quantities. Also, unless you are doing a specifically related range, for instance a cleanser and a moisturiser where if the cleanser was organic you would expect the moisturiser to be also, then you can mix and match between all three versions depending on your formulations and ingredients. Just make sure the reasons behind your decision in each case are sound. If you are going to be an organic skincare company, then be one. If you are embracing natural products then go for it!

So now you have an idea about the differences between selling organic and non organic natural skincare products! It's time to move on to looking at the issues around Making your natural skincare products.

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