I’ve talked to women who have all told me this wouldn’t work. Since I’ve never bought cosmetics, I’ll defer to their wisdom, but I still think its a good idea.
Years ago one of my ex-girlfriends was talking about how personal perfumes are (and how she’d lie if anyone ever asked her the name of her perfume because she didn’t want anyone else to wear the same scent). This lead to the idea of a website, something like CafePress where people can customize perfumes, colognes, shampoos, etc. There would be a variety of bases, to which various amount of scents and other additives could be mixed in, in amounts determined by the customer. The final, totally unique, product would be mixed up and sent out on demand.
Lipsticks, mascaras, blushes, etc could all be “tweaked” to subtly different shades.
The site could purchase discontinued products, and continue offering them on a “made for you” basis. A friend of mine has a hair gel she is very loyal to. The company that makes it has fallen on hard times and stopped selling retail. For a while she was ordering cases of it directly from the company, until they recently shut their doors for good. She ended up tracking down the guy who developed it, and she’s trying a new product he’s developed at his new company.
Clearly when a customer is at this point, they aren’t trying to save $0.50 off of their next purchase. They know what they want and they’re willing to pay to get it. If you had the equipment to mix up other products, you could probably also continue to make them their “discontinued” product.
“Tester” packs could be offered with certain mixtures that could be used as a “base” for people experimenting with creating their own (they could take the default option, then add a bit of “apple” scent to it for example). Once someone had a formula they were happy with, they could get a better price by ordering a larger volume. There’s always the possibility of people not being happy with the product when they receive it (especially if they get wildly experimental) which could be handled by encouraging them to try very small batches when they’re first experimenting.
While its obviously more expensive to create customized versions of a product, they would still probably be cheaper than some of the super-pricey name brand cosmetics (its shocking to me what people sometimes pay for a bottle of perfume).
Like CafePress, if someone wanted to share their creation, the site would let them advertise it and send a portion of the profit to the creator. People who wanted to keep it secret could do that as well.
As I said in the introduction, this is a type of product I have *NO* understanding of. I never wear cologne, and I buy whatever shampoo is the cheapest. My highest aspiration is not to smell bad. For those who do buy products along these lines, would you ever be tempted to order completely customized creations?
For this post, or any other of the wacky business ideas I post, obviously I’m releasing any ownership claims I may have over these ideas. If you like something I post and feel like you can make money from it, please feel free to do so! Let me know when you’re opening and we’ll do a post on it to give you some free advertising.