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Have an idea for a cosmetic product – Here is a reality check

A friend of mine from high school frequently comes up with ideas for inventions. He’s a clever guy and a bit of a thinker. But when you ask him about the invention, he refuses to talk about it. Apparently he is worried that someone will steal his idea.

This is wrong.

Ideas, even good ones, aren’t worth anything. Execution of the idea is where money and success are made.

Almost everyone at some point in their life will come up with an idea for a product. Often, the idea is for a new cosmetic product. They are convinced that the idea is amazing and will revolutionize the marketplace. Maybe it will…but probably not.

Realities about your idea

I don’t mean to sound pessimistic or discouraging but consider some realities about your new cosmetic product idea.

1. It’s almost certainly not unique. Someone has had the idea before. It was probably put forward numerous times in various brainstorming sessions held frequently by big companies. There are only so many ideas/features of a cosmetic product.

2. It probably can’t be done. If the product hasn’t been marketed yet, that’s probably because there is some technical challenge that makes it impossible. This could be a limitation of science or a limitation of the definition of cosmetics. For example, if your idea is to create a product that grows hair, this is not a cosmetic. It is a drug and you’ll need to go through all the hassle and expense of filing a New Drug Application with the FDA (in the US). Other countries have similar limitations.

3. It’s probably not marketable. If it’s not a drug and it’s not on the market that is probably because no one has figured out how to get people to buy the idea. And if you can’t figure out how to get people to buy the idea, no one else will either. An idea has to be more than just good…it has to be marketable.

Cosmetic Product Ideas

If I haven’t thoroughly discouraged you thus far, good. Your idea has a chance. There are a few other realities I want to point out.

Big Companies don’t really want your ideas. If you think that you have a great idea for a cosmetic product and that you are going to pitch it to some R&D or Marketing manager at a big company and they are going to take your idea, turn it into a product, and give you royalties on every sale, you’re mistaken. They won’t. Despite what they say, big companies (and small ones too) do not want your ideas. They don’t believe your idea is a good one. They especially won’t believe that someone outside their company was able to come up with some idea that was more impressive and superior to what their internal R&D and Marketing people could do.

They don’t want your idea. It makes them look bad. It makes them look like they are not doing their jobs. Unless you have a personal relationship with someone really important at the company, your idea will not be taken seriously.

If a big company sees someone making money with a good idea, that will get their attention. They would much rather buy a company that is already making money from an idea than to have to develop the idea themselves from scratch.

How to make your idea happen

So, the challenge for you is that you have to make the idea happen yourself. You have to demonstrate that the idea is technically feasible, is marketable, and can make money. If you can do this, then your idea has a chance.

To make it happen, you’ll need to make a prototype. You’ll need to put together some marketing materials. You’ll need to get some customers and make some sales. Then, you might be able to sell your “idea.”

Just some final points.

If you don’t have the passion to make your idea happen, it won’t. My friend need not worry about his ideas being stolen. If he doesn’t have enough passion for his idea no one else will either. This is why I will share every idea that I have. The odds of someone stealing a great idea of mine and turning it into a successful product are extremely low.

It will cost money. If you want to make your idea happen, you’ll have to invest some money. It takes money to create prototypes. It takes money for testing. It takes money to create websites and marketing materials. If you are not willing to invest in your idea, it will never happen. Gone are the days when some clever inventor can write an idea on a piece of paper, sell it to a big company, then retire. I doubt those days were ever true anyway.

It takes marketing. Having a great idea is not enough. You have to figure out how to sell your idea. People need to be convinced to buy products even if they are the greatest thing available. Marketing makes ideas successful. There are lots of excellent products that go nowhere because they have no marketing.

Odds of failure are high. It’s highly likely that your idea will fail in the marketplace. This is just the reality of things. However, you can be absolutely sure that your idea will fail if you never try. The successful entrepreneur will try lots and lots of ideas until she finds something that works. This is what you will have to do.

If you are still interested in making your cosmetic product idea happen that’s a good thing! It demonstrates you have passion for the idea. This free report on how to start a cosmetic line will be helpful.

Good luck!

{ 7 comments… add one }

  • Robert Barrows 02/17/2013, 12:14 am

    If you are in the cosmetics business already, please give me a call. I have developed some promotional concepts for a whole line of cosmetic products.
    Call Robert Barrows at R.M. Barrows, Inc. Advertising and Public Relations, 650-344-4405.

  • Colin 07/27/2012, 3:19 am

    A nice ice cold dose of realism in this post.

    Just to amplify it a bit, it is also worth remembering that nobody knows what is going to be a success. I have been looking at new ideas for decades and I remain totally unable to spot the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful one. And I have never come across anyone who can. The positive way to look at this is just because everyone else thinks your idea is crazy, it could still work.

  • Pedro 07/26/2012, 3:07 pm

    I see a lot the opposite: a not very good idea becoming a huge success.

    Moroccanoil “Treatment” is an example. It was created by a small company and is basically a mixture of very “traditional” silicones with a really small amount of an exotic vegetal oil. Nothing new or innovative. But is a huge success worldwide.

    • Perry 07/26/2012, 3:12 pm

      Yes, this happens too. The market success of a product doesn’t rely too much on the quality of the product. Of course, there is some minimal quality that you have to achieve but after that, marketing can take you a long way to success.

  • Mark Fuller 07/26/2012, 12:43 pm

    This post is dead-on! I see this phenomenon several times a year. “Brilliant” person has a “Million Dollar” idea and they want to tell me about it “only after we sign an NDA.”

    I have no issue with signing an NDA. However, as anyone can attest under contract law an NDA is void unless there is remuneration. I still honor them since transparency is critical in this area.

    Then usually the idea is either not revolutionary, dangerous or most commonly not Chemically possible.

    But, keep innovating. What does your Product deliver as a benefit? Is it a new and wonderful benefit? Better than what is out there now? What would cause a consumer to jump from a product they are loyal to to use yours?

    Then, keep in mind that money is key. I reiterate to my clients over and over that you can save in some areas, but Manufacturing is a set cost for the most part. The Manufacturer doesn’t care if you want him to give you a huge price break because “we are going to be huge and everyone is going to get rich.” They have heard that before and they still have the same overhead regardless.

    Write a Business Plan. Go and see the Small Business Association. Take the classes they offer. If after you write a Business Plan and your idea still holds up, there are still SBA Loans. I have several clients who have gone this route and gotten funding this way. Remember, you have to pay this money back. Are you still convinced that it is the best thing since sliced bread now that your wallet is in the mix? If after all this it still is, you will succeed.

    • Perry 07/26/2012, 2:44 pm

      Ah yes, the old NDA. In my experience they are a huge hassle with zero benefit.

      • Mark Fuller 07/29/2012, 6:29 am

        An NDA can be of some benefit with my clients.

        Firstly. it can be used as a litmus test when dealing with Production sources. In almost every case where the source has refused to sign an NDA, there have been integrity issues later on.

        Secondly, it will be argued that it is very difficult to enforce an NDA. I have to agree that they are of very little use as a Primary document. However, at the level of monetary exposure most of my clients are dealing with it usually becomes a Small Claims or Munincipal Court issue. An NDA is a great way to demonstrate intent to the Judge.

        However, most NDA’s can be easily pierced. Several years ago I spoke with an Attorney regarding NDA’s and he pointed out 2 big issues. An NDA is not valid unless there has been rumenaration for the receiver of the information. It is a contract. Party A (discloser) reveals Intellectual Property to Party B (Receivor). Unless Part B is paid some amount. the NDA is invalid. To deal with this, I have had clients pay me $1 in the past in order to validate the contractual relationship. Next, an NDA must be executed in the County and State of the Discloser and this information must be in the body of the NDA.

        So, when a client contacts a Manufacturer, asks them to sign an NDA and they send one to the client, this is invalid. The client should be the executor of the document and there is no remuneration. However, these NDA’s are signed all the time. Most reliable Manufacturers will honor the intent of the document, but in the end it is a false sense of securirty.

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