Markets, marketing, sales and markets…..
Have you ever had a market stall?
As a technical consultant to the cosmetics industry I work with many brands, some of which make their whole business market based to fit around family and other commitments. Having been an enthusiastic stall holder myself over the years I absolutely believe in the power of getting up, getting out there and getting on with it and while I do appreciate that markets aren’t the appropriate venue for all brands they are, in my opinion a valuable and cost-effective way to up-skill your new business self!
My sister and our research assistant Rebecca is currently in the thick of market life representing one of our start-up brands, Nature’s Gold. Rebecca is also in the process of establishing her cosmetic brand distribution networking business and so finds herself in the same position of many of my readers – so much to learn, so little time and a limited budget to do it with. I interviewed her recently to find out what she is learning from being at the markets:
Question :What is the best thing about selling skin care on a market stall?
Answer: I have always enjoyed retail, not necessarily for the sale but more for the interaction with the customers. It is an opportunity to meet new and interesting people who you would probably not speak
to during the daily scheduled of a busy life. Not only that, I get to feel part of a special community of market stall owners who seem to enjoy the customer interaction as much as I do.
Question: What is the worst aspect of it all?
Answer: I think the worst aspect of being a market stall owner is dealing with the weather. You are either freezing, hot, windswept or wet. The early mornings don’t deter me as I always think it’s the best part of the day.
Question: How do you think direct marketing (market stalls, face-to-face selling) compares to third-party selling (via a distributor or even into stores where you don’t see the customers
come in) for start-up brands?
Answer: The market stall is a travelling shop and marketing source that can gather information from different locations of what type of person is showing interest in the product/s, what the consumer actually wants and how much they want to pay. The service is far more personal as you can engage in to a conversation which gives you an opportunity to talk about the product/s in a friendly non pushy way. As you actually have first hand market research information, a shop is more likely to buy stock from you. You actually do know what the customer wants in that area unlike a distributor who does not have this first hand information.
Question: What has market stall holding taught you so far about selling skin care?
Answer: Most people have a reliable cream that they use all the time and I have learnt from markets that these customers need time to build a relationship with something new before they make that huge leap in replacing it. The benefits of selling it at the markets is that it is real advertising where the customer can touch and feel the product as well as get all the relevant information ,therefore building up that all important relationship.
Question: Have you been surprised at who comes to the stall and what they look at? If so in what way were you surprised?
Answer: I have been most surprised at the amount of men that have approached the stall. The ones I have spoken to have been after cream for the hands to heal splits and sores from working in the elements. I guess I did the age-old thing and pigeon holed skin care as a female beauty product but the fact is we all have skin and at times we all need help with it.
Thank you Rebecca.
In summary I believe that market stall holding or ‘market’ research (as in getting outside, walking around markets and talking to business owners) is one of the best things that any new cosmetic brand owner can do. It may not be your ideal retail outlet but there is a wealth of learning and valuable contacts to be made in getting to the very heart of the sales process.
Financially markets don’t always bring in the big bucks and often it is just a case of covering your stall fees, coffee money and maybe a little extra for your time. However, the intangible benefits can really add up – brand awareness, commitment to the local area, customer and other business contacts and even how well your product range stands up to being lugged around from town to town all makes for a worthwhile investment. On top of all that of course is the chance to get out, make friends and have a bit of fun!
So don’t be surprised if you see me at the markets on a weekend. I just love it!