What can cosmetic raw material companies do for formulators?

There was an interesting discussion on the SCC Linked-In group about what cosmetic chemists expect from suppliers. If you are a new cosmetic chemist you might not be familiar with some of the terms or what benefit raw material suppliers can have for you. Here are some ways your raw material suppliers can help make your job better. But first, let’s talk about how you will interact with a supplier.

Making supplier contact

There are basically four ways that you will connect with a supplier.
1. Sales person calls you
2. Distributor contacts you
3. You meet at an industry trade show or event
4. You contact the supplier
No matter the method, it almost always leads to a face to face meeting.

Education

Raw material suppliers should be experts in the field of whatever type of chemical they are selling. So, the surfactant suppliers should know about all surfactant chemistry. Preservative suppliers should be experts in preservative chemistry. You can ask them to give you general background information. Of course, they will push their own materials but that seems like an even trade.

Samples

When you hear about a compound or a sales person introduces it to you, they can also provide you with a (typically free) sample. They do this because it is the best way to ensure that you evaluate their raw materials and increases the chances that you will use it when you launch a product.

Technical support

When you run into a stability problem or batch problem, the raw material suppliers should be willing and able to help you fix the problem. If you run into a problem you can’t solve right away, contact your supplier.

Regulatory paperwork

With the way governments are changing regulations, the job of a cosmetic chemist is becoming more and more one where you have to track down and collect paperwork for every raw material you use. Your raw material supplier is the source for this paperwork. Use them.

Innovation / New product ideas

Suppliers should be bringing you potential new product ideas and you should request them if they are not. Why would they give you new ideas? Well, they make money by selling chemicals to you. If they suggest an idea that you ultimately launch, they will (or should) get orders for some of their chemicals. Suppliers are an excellent source for new ideas but remember, they want to sell chemicals so they’ll give this idea to other companies too.

Industry news

Suppliers are like the bees of the cosmetic industry. They go around to all the different manufacturers picking up inside information and depositing the information to other places around the industry. At times, they may accidentally spill a secret, a bit of gossip, or some other useful bit of news (say a new job opening). When you build a personal relationship with your supplier, you’ll be more likely to learn inside information. Of course, this also raises the possibility that they will learn info from you that gets shared with other places around the industry so beware.

Perks

In an effort to cultivate relationships, suppliers will often take you out to lunch or dinner or otherwise entertain you as a potential client. Most companies do not have a problem with this and remember that there is no quid-pro-quo. That is, just because someone does something nice for you does not mean that you are otherwise obligated to use their stuff. Of course, some companies do not allow their chemists to accept any perks from suppliers so be sure to learn what your company’s policies are regarding the acceptance of gifts.

Suppliers can be a great resource for cosmetic chemists. Use them respectfully and wisely, and they can help make your job much easier.

How have suppliers helped you?  Leave a comment below

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