by guest author Rhian Allen
Creating and launching my own range of products has been one of the most challenging, rewarding, exciting and exhausting times of my life and it has been the best thing I have ever done for my own business.
In 2010 I launched my website (www.losebabyweight.com.au) as a concept created to help mums lose their pregnancy weight in a safe and healthy way. It is a niche audience and I created it as there was nothing in the weight loss and health arena that was specifically catering to mums on a national – or global level and which took a holistic approach to weight loss – encompassing food, exercise, motivation, community and support.
After the huge success of the brand I then decided to create my own range of nutritional products that would be sold through the Lose Baby Weight website as well as exist in their own right and brand on a new The Healthy Mummy website. (www.healthymummy.com)
The amount of work, money, time, effort and research that went into The Healthy Mummy products was about 50 times more than I expected. I foolishly thought that it would take around 3 months to get my product up and running but the reality was that it took over 12 months and cost over $150,000 in product development, branding, intellectual property and research before we were happy with the result – and this excludes the actual cost of the product once we were ready to go into production! Balancing finances has definitely become a big focus for me over the past 18 months!
Here are 7 tips for launching your own product:
1. Set a product development and research budget and be realistic. Always have a slush fund for extra and unexpected costs and expect your product to have 5-10 phases of formulation and re formulation before you will be happy with the result – and make sure you are employing experts on the creation of your product.
2. When you are happy with the end product put it into independent tests and trials; just because you like it – it doesn’t mean everyone will. The customer is king so get customer and your target audience feedback before going into mass production. We tested our range on 100 mums and 92 mums liked it and would recommend it to their friends- which we were really happy with.
3. Ensure you have an independent body testing or reviewing your product so you can take on their feedback and make any further changes necessary. We had our products reviewed by the Monash University and a member of the Board of Dieticians which lead to further formulation changes (yes more – just when I thought we were ready to go into production!)
4. Work through a solid marketing and PR strategy plan as no matter how good your product is if people don’t know about it they won’t be able to buy it and it won’t survive. Ours included a mixture of magazine editorial and advertising, blogger trial, online PR, independent nutritionist endorsement, email marketing and social media.
5. If you don’t have enough funding yourself then look at investors to help you launch your product. There are many Angel Investor companies who are looking for good companies and ideas to invest in and are a good option if you are short on funds. (read more about finding funding here.)
6. Expect a number of challenges along the way and hidden costs at every stage. If you are passionate about your product and have a brilliant development team around you then believe in yourself and have faith. It may take time and hard work but you will get there.
7. Make sure you have a launch strategy. You need to work through how you will bring it to market and reach your audience. We launched with a variety of marketing and PR and also partnered with Bubhub.com.au to run a research study on how healthy the average mums diet was. Some of the stats that came out of the study included the fact that 1 in 2 mums were not eating breakfast and the fact that 9 out of 10 mums ate a worse diet than pre baby. You can see the full results here.
In June 2012 we launched The Healthy Mummy range of products and the success of the product has blown me away! I believed in the product and knew how much work had gone into it, but you still have fears of ‘what if others don’t like it”.
But I am overwhelmed on a daily basis on all the positive feedback and results from mums using the product that we are sent in and that are posted on our Facebook page (which now has nearly 30,000 mums on) and from daily emails sent in. Since launch we have sold over 35,000 products and repeat purchase is over 70%. We have already had to place three more orders with our factory and next month we have 200,000 products being delivered for the start of summer which is more than I could have ever anticipated 3 months ago.
Yes it has been extremely hard work and with me currently being 6 months pregnant and a very active toddler I feel exhausted every day but I can 100% say it is worth it and I am proud to have produced a business and product that is helping so many mums.
Do you have a questions for Rhian about her experience with manufacturing & launching her own product? Add it below!
Rhian Allen, is a mum from Sydney, and is the Owner & Founder of www.losebabyweight.com.au and www.healthymummy.com which were launched on October 1 2010. Since launching, Lose Baby Weight has helped mums lose over 150,000kg and regain their energy and health post pregnancy. Visit the Lose Baby Weight Facebook page (www.facebook.com/losebabyweight.com.au) and join one of the most engaged audiences on Facebook.