The Talk Soap Forum

Talk Soap Forum
April 16, 2014, 07:54:20 PM Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: Now officially opened!
 
   Home   Help Search Login Register  
Pages: [1] 2
  Print  
Author Topic: Sample Bars  (Read 1897 times)
Opulence
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 2326


View Profile
« on: September 11, 2011, 10:21:33 AM »

Hi,
I am now ready to hand out bars of my soap for people to try.  This will help me get the feed back necessary to prepare for business.

I looking for help/suggestions on the following:

~ Size of sample bar

~ labeling
   do I list ingredients and what information do I put about 
   myself; i.e. email address &/or phone number

~ packaging
   I'd like to have samples with me at all times.  What's the
best way to package and keep the soap fresh; i.e. cigar band, plastic gift bag, mesh, etc.  I want to keep the cost down.

~ the best way to survey or get feed back

All suggestions are welcome.

Thanks and make it a great day!
Logged

www.shop.jlexi.co

http://www.facebook.com/www.jlexi.co?ref=hl#!/www.jlexi.co - "Like" me on facebook

http://blog.jlexi.co - helping to keep you clean, encouraged and well moisturized

www.jlexi.co - Look beautiful . . . Naked!
StampinFairy
Sr. Member
****
Posts: 497


View Profile Email
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2011, 10:52:08 AM »

I'd like more information...

is this your initial run of soaps and are you prepared to change your base recipe if your feedback suggests you need to?

Are you giving your samples to friends and family or to strangers?

Logged
Opulence
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 2326


View Profile
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2011, 11:28:54 AM »

Hi StampinFairy,
Thanks for responding. 

This would be my first organized run. 

I made my first batch of soap in May, 2011 where I made soap favors for my cousin's baby shower.  I only listed the name of the soap and the ingredients.  I did not include any followup information.  Besides that some of my family has tried my soap.

I am creating my own recipes and running them through SoapCalc.  I don't have a standard base recipe; each one is unique.  To answer your question, yes, I am prepared to change my recipe; if needed. 

I plan on giving samples to friends, family & strangers alike.  I want to samples available to give to everyone I come in contact with.  I want the packaging and look of the samples to reflect myself and the ingredients of the soap.

What's a good size bar to give as a free sample?

Since this would be the public's first impression of my soap, I want it to be a good and lasting one.

Any suggestions?

Thanks
Logged

www.shop.jlexi.co

http://www.facebook.com/www.jlexi.co?ref=hl#!/www.jlexi.co - "Like" me on facebook

http://blog.jlexi.co - helping to keep you clean, encouraged and well moisturized

www.jlexi.co - Look beautiful . . . Naked!
StampinFairy
Sr. Member
****
Posts: 497


View Profile Email
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2011, 12:04:29 PM »

ok..

I have a few things to say, and please take them and do what you think is best... this is just my opinion...

First, I think, while I understand that you want to make a good first impression, that you don't want to waste too much energy and cost on FREE samples. Remember, they are FREE. so if you over package them you will not be compensated. I mean, yes, if they eventually buy from you, it was worth it... but just keep that in mind.

Now, for a SAMPLE you have to think: do I want to give away something that a family of 4 can use for a week? OR just enough for someone to use once or twice in the shower, maybe for a week at the sink only?

I do this: I have full size bars for sale at $7.  I have "hostess size" or Travel size bars (the full ones cut in half on the long side) that I sell for $4.  They get nearly equal treatment in packaging. The full size gets a 2 inch wrap of cardstock with a piece of ribbon tied in a knot and a label.  The half size gets only a 1 inch strip of cardstock and the label.  There was no way to physically put the ribbon on it, there wasn't room.

If you see, the full size is a better price, because 2 half bars cost $8! Anyway, people do buy the small bars as samplers, and you can use it in the shower for a few weeks.  People feel they can try more scents this way.

As for a true Free Sample... I take the end of the loaf per batch, which is usually about a half inch thick, and I cut it into about one inch squares.  I get 12 per batch.  By doing this, I am not cutting into my profit by using any of the sellable bars. 

I put this small piece into a plastic bag, ones made for jewelry about the size of a business card, and I staple my card to it.  I label the name of the soap scent on the bag or the card and I have a baggie full of them in my purse.  Your contact info is there, and the sample is there too.  I bet most people never use that small sample, but they could.  And eventually they might find it somewhere in their "junk drawer" and realize they need a gift for someone.  And there you go.

I don't know, I hope I didn't send you in a confused tizzy. I think its important to decide what you are comfortable "giving away" even if you think it will be worth it eventually. 

Now, as far as friends and family... I think it is totally worth it to give away even a full size bar as a gift... say for a birthday, or even for no reason.  If you get your friends hooked on your wonderful product, they will realize they can't live without it.

A couple friend of mine always said how they loved how my soaps looked, but never bought, even though they can afford to. Turns out, the husband ONLY uses liquid soap in the shower.  I gifted the wife for her birthday with a few soaps and she was very excited.  I bet soon enough, they are buying from me all the time!


As for your other questions, I never put the ingredients on the bars... I know I should, but I have my contact info on the label and people do know how to ask questions if they want to know.  I do have a sign on my table stating that all the soaps are made with saponified Vegetable oils... I'm also planning a brochure to give more info.  I hope that;s enough as far as the government in concerned. (probably not tho) so if you can work it into your label I suggest you do something about that.

sorry so long, hope that helped some
Denise
Logged
StampinFairy
Sr. Member
****
Posts: 497


View Profile Email
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2011, 12:08:14 PM »

Actually, I just thought about it!

I think for your first run soaps... you could cut your full bars into 6 pieces for a nice BIG chunk.  or 12 pieces for slightly smaller chunks. Then staple the bag to a card.  Maybe your card says:

this is my first batch of soap, please feel free to leave feedback at this email address.....  I will accept ALL honest comments

or something.

Huh
Logged
Opulence
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 2326


View Profile
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2011, 03:47:03 PM »

StampFairy!
Thanks for your valuable information.

Your response got me thinking Huh.  Since I am not in business, I probably shouldn't give out samples.  You want people to sample an item in hopes they purchase it.  They can't purchase the soap 'cause I'm not selling it!!!  I will put the samples on hold until I have a product to sell; only I won't call them samples, they will be trial-size bars.

My idea was more for market research; you know, to see if people like the recipes and to help me decide on whether I wanted to go into business.  Maybe I'm going about it in the wrong way. 

OK . . . I've made my decision.  My market research will continue to be my family, friends and all who want to try the soap by requesting it.  I will give them a 1/2 bar to experience.  I will ask them to give me their opinion.  Only with my name and email address, the only ingredients I will list is whether or not the item contains nuts or dairy or speciality ingredients that I'd like to highlight.

You're absolutely correct, I do not want to put a lot of money, time or energy in packaging and labeling FREE items that will probably never be used.

How did you start your business . . . before you actually started your business?   Everyone feel free to answer.

Thanks for your time! Smiley
Logged

www.shop.jlexi.co

http://www.facebook.com/www.jlexi.co?ref=hl#!/www.jlexi.co - "Like" me on facebook

http://blog.jlexi.co - helping to keep you clean, encouraged and well moisturized

www.jlexi.co - Look beautiful . . . Naked!
soap1967
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 2015


View Profile Email
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2011, 05:25:36 PM »

In developing my soaps to decide whether ot not to take it to the business level I gave away free full size soaps.  The reason for this was I needed response not only based on the quality of the product, but the size and visual appeal.  It also gave me an idea as to how long the soap was lasting.  I changed the shape and volume of my soaps based on the feedback I got - several times.  What I thought was a great initial offering came back that they liked the soap itself but did not like the size and or shape and so on and that could affect your resale or initial sale.  I also was able to determine quality control problems such as I had a soap recipe that when it got half way through the bar it cracked, and at a $7 a bar price no one was willing to repurchase.  If you are going to be selling, you are going to be producing in quantity.   You have to cure, so thats a lot of time and money investment only to find out afterward that there is an issue.  I gave away about 60 bars of soap before I got my formula and eveything else down.  Yes I ate the cost, but as a business I also wrote off the loss. 

As far as having an existing business and sampling - i only sample to people who purchase from me.  I always sample with a different product than they have purchased and its a pretty generous sized sample.  I see a return on this they usually purchase full size next go round.  It has not been my experience that handing out random samples does anything for my business.   The purchaser of a $4 to $10 (on average) bar of soap is a very specific buyer and if you don't hit it they are not going to buy from you.  Personally a small sample of soap is too much hassle for me to try and wash my body with so as a handmade soap lover I wouldn't try it.  Anyway its just my two cents!
Logged
Opulence
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 2326


View Profile
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2011, 05:41:55 PM »

soap1967,
Thanks for you $.02; it was actually worth much, much more!!!

How did people respond to you?  You sound very specific in the information you gathered?  What was/is your method of surveying? Was it given with the bar of soap?  Did you email one to them?  Via telephone?

Inquiring mind(s) want to know.

Thanks a bunch!
Logged

www.shop.jlexi.co

http://www.facebook.com/www.jlexi.co?ref=hl#!/www.jlexi.co - "Like" me on facebook

http://blog.jlexi.co - helping to keep you clean, encouraged and well moisturized

www.jlexi.co - Look beautiful . . . Naked!
Opulence
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 2326


View Profile
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2011, 05:52:09 PM »

The process for people like me may be to first organize ourselves as a business.  Even if we aren't immediately selling we are at least set up and can start thinking and functioning as a business . . . especially as it relates to our finances!  Then the decisions we make are more focused and not all willy-nilly and all over the place.

I believe then we can start enjoying write-offs as far as inventory and classes go, as well.

Logged

www.shop.jlexi.co

http://www.facebook.com/www.jlexi.co?ref=hl#!/www.jlexi.co - "Like" me on facebook

http://blog.jlexi.co - helping to keep you clean, encouraged and well moisturized

www.jlexi.co - Look beautiful . . . Naked!
StampinFairy
Sr. Member
****
Posts: 497


View Profile Email
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2011, 06:12:13 PM »

soap1967, interesting twist, seeing the other side of my coin. I appreciate you showing us that side. And like I said, my post was only what worked for me... or shall I say, what I made work for me. I think any combination of ideas could have worked out in some way.

Opulence, this is great because we see how even with my idea (some which worked and some that didn't) that I learned from them anyway.  And now we all share and learn.

I think it wise to set in your mind "business" or not business.  Even if you are months or a year out from selling, its good to start fresh knowing you intend to get into business mode.  ITs great because there won't be that day that you go "Oh crap, where are those packing slips? Where did I buy that oil, and how much did it cost me?"

Keep track of EVERYTHING, even what you give away as free.  It is all write-off-able!

Quote
It has not been my experience that handing out random samples does anything for my business. .....  Personally a small sample of soap is too much hassle for me to try and wash my body with so as a handmade soap lover I wouldn't try it.  Anyway its just my two cents!

These are great points. I need to stop handing out random samples at shows. Sometimes I am just desperate to get people to look at me and my table that I shove cards with samples into their hands.  It really is kind of embarrassing. 

Also, sometimes I find an old cut of a sample, and I see how much smaller I cut them at first.... oh man! REALLY EMBARRASSING!  I struggle to find that middle ground of "small enough to get enough samples from the end" and "large enough that I should almost charge for it" (if that makes sense)

enough from me, bed time Smiley
Logged
soap1967
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 2015


View Profile Email
« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2011, 06:15:11 PM »

Truthfully I had a benefit many don't I work in the beauty industry to begin with so I had many, many people to get feedback from.  i also would get groups of girlfriends together and we would talk about the soap.  I had in mind the price I wanted to charge - its important when getting the feedback.  i would give them several shapes and sizes to look at, hold etc.  For me, people were more willing to pay a higher price for soaps that were perfect and exact in shape as opposed to hand cut loaves.  I showed them gelled vs. non gelled, swirled vs. solid color, list of ingredients.  i would ask them questions and then sat back and took notes as they talked.  these 'gatherings" produced the most useful information I got.  I found that when I gave people the soap and then followed up later the information was not as detailed, and people were LESS likely to be honest about things they didn't like.  I know this because if I found a recurrent complaint in the groups i often didn't hear it from the people who just took the soap home.  When I would ask them had they found this same problem they would say 'Yes" - when I said why didn't you tell me invariably they would say because they didn't want to be negative or make me feel bad.  

I did these gatherings all the way down to packaging.  packaging and presentation are a huge key to success as most people are only buying it because of the way it looks packaged.  My target marketing group was completely uninterested in soap that wasn't totally covered.  Most said they viewed unwrapped soap or soap with just a band to be (of all things) "dirty".  The key here is - what is your target market?  You must determine this before you begin this as a business or you will most likely fail unless you are lucky.  My target market because of availability and what I do professionally is 30+ in age and 50k> a year in salary.  

An interesting point to this is we took my product to an open market about 30 miles out of the city.  This was not my target market but we thought it would be a good sales weekend.  WRONG.  We sold almost nothing in 3 days while hand cut loaves were flying off the tables.  In the city, I can't keep my product in stock.  

Bottom line business is business is business they all follow the same model no matter what you are selling!
Logged
soap1967
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 2015


View Profile Email
« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2011, 06:29:37 PM »

StampinFairy - No idea is a bad idea.  Everything is trial and error.  i work in the beauty industry and have for 20 years - I understand it.  My mentor taught me a LONG time ago the dangers of giving something away for free.  His experience taught him that giving things away for free or discount seldom resulted in a profit then or later.  I had to learn that lesson myself as no on can tell anyone anything lol.  Anyway, people want to buy things that are luxury, special, different and artistic.  A freebie discounts quality.  Different for different industries as I can sample a food in the grocery store and buy it right then if i like it, but you just cannot give someone a sample experience of your soap when they are standing in front of you!

You can however, entice people.  This is a necessary product but also an impulse purchase.  Instead of sampling I would look at my presentation.  Make your tables visually appealing, different than everyone's else's.  make them pretty, inviting and put some food out for people to eat.  Nothing ridiculous -  a bowl of hard candies - think of yourself as the spider and your table as the web.   

Logged
Opulence
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 2326


View Profile
« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2011, 07:01:54 PM »

Wow, Ladies!
This discussion is fantastic and very encouraging.

I'm glad we are have this open and honest dialog.  It helps us all reflect what we want . . . some of us want businesses and some of us don't.

For those of us who want businesses, we must know that the business starts at the conception or idea of it; which is way before we open our doors.   Everything we think, say & do regarding our handmade products tells people who we are and what our businesses are about.

soap1967 and StampinFairy you are bringing very valuable information to the table.  You are tellings us to think and plan.  There is a saying that says, "If you fail to plan you plan to fail."

I love the idea of brining a focus group of people you trust together to get their opinions on everything from look to packaging.

I will start working on my business plan and thinking like a businesswoman!
Logged

www.shop.jlexi.co

http://www.facebook.com/www.jlexi.co?ref=hl#!/www.jlexi.co - "Like" me on facebook

http://blog.jlexi.co - helping to keep you clean, encouraged and well moisturized

www.jlexi.co - Look beautiful . . . Naked!
ceebee2001
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 1672


View Profile
« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2011, 09:28:18 PM »

If you are going the craft show route, please make sure your boothe is enticing and professional looking.

 My pet peeves, tables covered with wrinkled bed sheets (and not even straight on the table) , legs of tables showing, boxes and stuff showing under the tables.  A plastic dust ruffle  from the dollar store or party store  under a pressed sheet looks better than nothing.  I feel that if your boothe looks like you take pride in how it looks, then you take pride in your product.  I helped a friend at her very first show, and people thought she had been doing it for ever because of how her tables were  dressed with skirts and pressed table cloths.

Another thing that I do not like is eating at the boothe and talking to customers.  Try to bring someone who is knowledgeable  with you so you can eat undisturbed away from the boothe and go to the bathroom without leaving an empty boothe.

Leave the kids at home unless they are old enough to work the booth.  Again I have been to many shows where ladies have brought their infants/toddlers  and had to keep them entertained during a long day.
Another turn off of mine is seeing merchants sitting on a chair with their nose in a book ignoring people.   If it is slow, bring some busy work pertaining to your craft... wrap soaps, make labels.

 Just my rant for the night, and can you tell I was at a Market this weekend with many, many thrown together boothes and people filling their faces while trying to attract customers and some trying to keep their toddlers entertained while they worked.

Here is a trick I learnt years ago catering.... How to Box a Tablecloth. 
http://www.wonderhowto.com/how-to-box-tablecloth-for-catered-events-382303/
Logged
TexasGal
Full Member
***
Posts: 148


View Profile Email
« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2011, 09:43:36 AM »

Wow, this has been a very valuable thread. Thanks to all who contributed their knowledge.

I had not thought about the de-valuaing idea of giving samples away. I think I will compromise and make slightly larger "samples" and price accordingly.

Another idea I am trying is taking three different bars and cutting them into thirds and wrapping them together. I am calling this a "sampler" and telling people that it allows them to try three different blends and fragrances without a big investment.

Logged
Pages: [1] 2
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by SMF 1.1.14 | SMF © 2006-2011, Simple Machines LLC