One of my favorite business books is one called Blue Ocean Strategy. There are a number of things I like about it, but perhaps what I find most useful is that it provides a great roadmap to creating new products that stand out from the competition.
Here is a slide deck with a summary of the most important parts of the book.
So, how does this help with formulating?
Well, the Blue Ocean Strategy is all about figuring out ways to separate yourself from the crowd. The idea is to create a product that has a unique positioning or unique benefits that you avoid the bloody competition of the Red Ocean. This means that you can’t simply create a formulation or cosmetic product that does everything the same way as all the other competitors. You’ve got to find a way to stand out. And in doing this, you do not compete with other players, competition becomes irrelevant.
The Strategy Canvass is a great way to figure out where the competition is focusing and where you might make changes to offer something different. If you did this for body wash for example, you would first list the main features of the product.
Delivered from 16 oz bottle
Used in shower
Then you would use the Eliminate / Reduce / Raise / Create grid for finding your unique niche.
For example, what would the product be like if you eliminated foam or fragrance? Maybe the product is a powder rather than liquid.
There is much more that can be done but if you are looking for ways to be more innovative with your formulating and product offering, the Blue Ocean Strategy book provides a great method for doing that.