Saturday, July 20, 2019

Testing -- forgotten or never known?

    My marketing mentors knew well the importance of testing but I suspect that you may be less acquainted with that art. There are times, such as when an individual or small company wants to launch a new perfume, that testing is hardly considered. Why?

    A major problem for testing is that you need a product to test with. Say you are planning to produce 50,000 bottles of a new fragrance. Can you, for a test, produce just 500 bottles? Will your vendors appreciate what you are doing and let you purchase just 500 bottles, 500 pumps, 500 boxes ... and just enough of the custom fragrance they have made for you to fill 500 bottles? Good luck with it! Here's a solution I once used.

    My company had what some thought might be an opportunity to sell a fragrance profitably. We had never sold a fragrance. The question was not the scent itself as we sold by mail and the buyers would have no opportunity to sample the scent. The question was, would our customers, the ones receiving our catalog regularly, have enough interest in a fragrance to make a fragrance offering profitable.

    A great many businesses are in this same situation. Their customers might go for a house-branded fragrance but developing one can seem like a very large financial risk.

    For us, to answer this question we purchased a few dozen bottles of a fragrance being sold by a competitor -- and advertised it in our catalog. The produce was a modest success.

    Here's where numbers come in. We projected what it would cost to make our own fragrance and how much money we could save on the cost per bottle by producing the fragrance ourselves. As it turned out, when we took charge and produced a fragrance ourselves, our cost per bottle was just 20 percent of what we had paid for the dummy fragrance. With the help of some inspired promotion, our new fragrance proved remarkably profitable.

Scent vs. market receptivity

    The test described above was for marketing receptivity. Would people in a particular market buy a fragrance from the marketer if it was presented to them "in their own language," so to speak. This  is really the first and most important test a fragrance entrepreneur needs to make. Your fragrance can be positively the best but if you market it to a universe of non-responders to your perfume, you'll get crushed.

    In my thinking, the most important question is not "will they like my perfume?" but rather "will they buy a perfume from me, the marketer?" Happily, while testing the appeal of various scents is a difficult undertaking for a small company, testing the potential receptivity of a particular market is considerably easier. Why Because you don't need the final product -- the real product -- to make a test. You simply need a product. This was my thinking when, in 2011, I wrote a little book called "How to make your first perfume for under $500". The book is now a free download from my website.

    The book guides you through the process of producing a small amount of your own fragrance but a large enough amount to allow you to test for the receptivity of your target market for a fragrance.

    With this test amount of a fragrance -- not necessarily the scent you hope to sell if your test goes well -- you can even establish a trademark. Once the fragrance is "out there" the name, if not in use by another, is yours -- and the trademark refers neither to the scent inside nor the bottle and packaging. If your test is a success you can upgrade to a more desirable fragrance and create nicer packaging while using same name -- the name that is now a protected trademark.

    This kind of test might not be your cup of tea but be aware that testing, to make sure that you have a receptive market, is important. It can save you many thousands of dollars that might be lost or, on the bright side, show you that putting your money into a perfume for this market will be a smart, profitable move.

    That free book download page is here.