Cosmetics cover many things including skin treatment, hair treatment, general grooming products and fragrances. The cosmetics business was worth an estimated US$500 million in 2018 and is projected to be worth around US$750 million by 2025. The market is not just getting bigger but also getting deeper and wider. Deeper with more niche needs being addressed in the market for example natural African hair. Wider as cosmetics expand to serve previously underserved markets. Take a look at all the’ for men’ products and brands in the market today. This proves that there is space for the cosmetics manufacturing business in Zimbabwe.
First, we will have to look at the market. Many needs in the market are not being adequately met by existing products. It doesn’t matter which comes first, the product or the problem it solves all that matters is that it is a viable solution. So feel free to think widely in this regard. Interrogate the market to establish where opportunities are or to find where your product can be used. Small niches may still be worth serving if the solution is adequate for the user. So don’t think narrowly about the product and market. You will likely find success in hair and skin but even in those broad categories, we can break them down further.
The products you create and sell should be all about adequately addressing the customer’s needs. This will have an impact on your manufacturing process which we will discuss shortly. You will need to put a lot of effort into education, ingredient sourcing, product testing and market research. It sounds like a lot of work but it is not as hard as it seems. Many cosmetics businesses have started in backyard fashion and become reputable businesses. Look no further than multiple award-winning Lienne Shoniwa’s Manetain organics.
The majority of the advice is to start small. Work on the product and get it right then scale. Producing large quantities of a poor product that fails to take off in the market will erode your finances and your motivation. So it is advisable to start on a small scale and you can use equip[ment you already have in the home depending on what you choose to manufacture. There are so many resources online and offline for learning how to make cosmetics. My favourite resource for this is YouTube with many free videos. Video is completely immersive and can teach you how to do something better than other formats. However, there is no magic bullet, just because someone made a YouTube video doesn’t mean the formula is guaranteed to work. This is where product testing is very important and it is part of your manufacturing process rather than your marketing process. You can find resources to help with making soaps, shampoos, lotions, skin creams, fragrances, moisturisers, night creams and many more cosmetics. Don’t let my limited imagination stop you.
You will need to put some thought into creating a brand. A brand goes beyond a logo or colours. A brand is the sum of all the expressions of the beliefs about something that create its identity. Coca-Cola’s logo is as much a part of its brand as the images we immediately think of people sharing good times with Coca-Cola products. And you will need to think about this widely when creating a brand. It’s more than a mark, it’s a story, a complete identity. You will not need a brand to sell your products, you can start selling without a brand. However, you will need a brand to defend your position and retain customers while growing the business. The sooner you establish one the better.
Work on creating great products first. You may have to iterate 100 or more times before finding the perfect formula and that’s fine. Putting in the work at this stage ensures that you will have a good product when it comes time to expand. Make sure that all ingredients in your products are legal in Zimbabwe and legal for the particular use of cosmetics.