You’ve decided to start a skin care ecommerce business. You already know your business mission, your big WHY behind doing this in the first place.

The next step is to define your SPECIFIC handmade skin care target market so that your customers will turn into proud advocates for everything you do.

Yes. YOU get to decide who to sell to. As a small business (and most likely a solopreneur), you have the freedom to be SUPER detailed about what you create and what kind of customer base is enjoyable for you.

But it’s more than a freedom. Having a zeroed-in target market is a requirement to be successful in the handmade industry.

If you try to sell to everyone, you will sell to no one.

I’m sure if anyone tried your products, they would LOVE them. You make great stuff.

But you’re not going to sell a $10 lip balm in sustainable packaging to a ramen-noodle-eating college student. And a well-off enviornmentalist is not going to be enticed to purchase a lip balm that has a bright cartoon-y font and is packaged in a plastic tube (clearly created with a sorority sister in mind).

By thinking about tiny details (that all add up to something not so tiny), your audience will say, “Holy cow, it seems like this (enter amazing skin care product here) was literally made with me in mind!”…because it WILL be.

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Target Market for Organic Skin Care Products

So that we’re all starting on the same page here, our definition of a target market is, “A particular group of consumers at which a product or service is aimed.”

‘Particular’ being the operative word. And there are SO many groups to choose from, especially if you are on the path to creating an organic skin care line.

North America is the leading market for revenue share.
Asia Pacific will be the fastest growing market region.
Females will be the top gender for industry growth.
• There will be more demand for multi-use items to solve skin care issues.
Is this enough information for us to effectively brand our skin care businesses? Heck no. We are not L’Oréal®.

We will get found as a small, handmade business by diving one million feet deeper.

As an example, in the United States, the top three markets for natural skin care sales growth are young professionals, new mothers, and the geriatric communityand each of THOSE areas are just the tip of the target market iceberg.

Skin Care Marketing Strategy

This article is about choosing your target market, which will have a direct impact on your marketing strategy.

It is essential that you understand WHY taking the deep dive into understanding your target customer is so important to the foundation of your handmade business.

A solid marketing strategy requires that every single detail of your business be an intentional decision that is based on the needs and likes of your target market.
For handmade skin care, this means:

Creating a product line full of items that your customer will actually use…

Using containers and packaging that speak to your customers budget and values…

Designing with font pairings on your labels and website that resonate with your customer’s personality…

Using a writing voice (aka ‘copy’) that makes your customer 100% identify with YOU – your product descriptions, your social media posts, and even in your direct communications with them.

It is IMPOSSIBLE to do any of this WELL if you don’t understand every nook and cranny of who you are selling to.
Even if you immediately identified with one of the top three customer growth areas above, there is still A LOT to unpack before moving on in your business planning.

By putting in your target market research, you will end up with customers that will:

Comment on your social media posts
• Share their experiences via reviews on their own social accounts
Tag other potential customers in your advertising (“@marymaryquitecontrary, this is the serum I was telling you about!”)
Restock your products when they’re running out
Give your products during gifting occasions

Without further ado, let’s build a solid foundation for that business of yours!

To brand ourselves successfully, we need to know general facts about our target market (demographics), what those individuals see as valuable (psychographics), and how they spend their time (our secret sauce!).

Demographics

The definition of demographics is ‘the statistical characteristics of human populations used especially to identify markets’, and this includes age, gender, economic status, geographic location, marital status, education, and employment.

Age

Choose ONE age to market to. That helps you get incredibly specific about the exact life stage and experiences that your customer is going through.

To explain more fully, check out this statistic: “Almost 70% of US consumers between the ages of 18 and 29 state that they preferred natural and organic skin care products.”

In this example, eleven years might sounds like a small range, but think about the HUGE difference in lifestyles of those ages. Eighteen-year-olds have just graduated from high school. Twenty-nine-year olds are already graduated from college and possibly married with children.

You can’t market to a range effectively. Again, choose just ONE age for your focus.

Gender

Females are the top gender for industry growth (though worth noting that there is an increased demand in the male population for facial care and sun care products).

Whether you are marketing towards women, men, or somewhere in between, stick to that ONE identity. Women talk about their skin care much differently than men do. If you try to cater to all identities, you will cater to none.

Economic Status

Economic status (VERY broadly meaning ‘how much money you make’) is categorized into five classes: upper, upper-middle, middle, working and lower.

This factor alone will be HUGE in your skin care marketing. It will lead every decision you make.

If your target market is in the middle or working class, you’ll have more success if you purchase items that are agreeable to those on a budget: plastic packaging, product labels printed at home, reused shipping boxes, and non-organic ingredients.

If your target market is in the upper-middle class, you will have no problem charging a higher price tag for products that have branding details where cost isn’t a factor: sustainable packaging, professionally printed labels, a branded unboxing experience, and 100% organic ingredients.

Geographic Location

Another huge ‘detail’ to consider. Where in the world is your customer?

Skin care trends vary widely across the globe.

In Korean skin care, the term ‘glass skin’ is what everyone is talking about. There are entire websites strictly dedicated to all things K-beauty.

In the United States, eco-beauty brands and CBD skin care are all the rage. But even within the U.S. there are differences in trends and needs: Californians (West Coast) have to dish out more money for products with SPF all year round, whereas New Yorkers (East Coast) have to deal with dry skin due to windy, cold weather for part of the year.

It’s a MUST to know where your audience lives to create products they’ll actually find useful.

Marital Status

In terms of branding, this demographic category doesn’t effect skin care sales one way or the other. 

As you will see in our exercise below, it is a detail to consider when coming up with your ‘ideal customer’ just to really complete their identity in your head. But certainly not a requirement.

Education

The educational status of your target market will have a very strong hand in your branding.

Educational status, meaning the level of schooling completed (less than a high school diploma, high school graduate, some college/no degree, Associate degree, Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, Professional degree, Doctoral degree) has a direct tie to income in the United States.

As discussed in the economic status section, this will effect what types of products and packaging you offer to your customer.

Additionally, the educational status will determine how you talk to your customer. The vocabulary and tone that you use in your product descriptions and marketing campaigns will vary widely based on the educational background of your target audience.

Employment

For most employed individuals, what you do for income takes up the majority of the day. The type of skin care used will change based on how much time your customer has and what they are doing as they work.

On the other hand, if not employed, this speaks volumes as well. Is your customer a stay-at-home mom that has an unpredictable sleep schedule? Or a retired individual with lots of time on her hands to research possibilities?

Employment details have a HUGE impact on what products you will create for your chosen target market.

Psychographics

The definition of psychographics is ‘the study and classification of people according to their attitudes, aspirations, and other psychological criteria, especially in market research.’ This includes religious affiliation, political affiliation, hobbies, and lifestyle.

Religious & Political Affiliation

The three subjects considered taboo to discuss: Sex, Religion, and Politics. You’ve heard that before, I’m sure!

It is up to you how you handle your own business.

People feel very strongly about their religious and political beliefs – if you decide to incorporate either of these subjects in your business branding, realize you will win some customers and alienate others.

That being said, knowing what your ideal customer believes will help to guide your product list, how you discuss the use of your products, as well as direct any sort of marketing campaigns you develop for your brand (what holidays you recognize on social media, promotions, etc).

Hobbies & Lifestyle

Hobbies and lifestyle choices are much easier topics to approach in branding, and quite a bit can be deduced based on the other details from our target market research.

Natural skin care is actually the perfect industry example of how you can assume other things about your customer’s life.

If someone is concious of what they put on their skin, you can safely assume that they are also conscious of what they consume.

Most individuals that have more intentional diets take care of their bodies in other ways, such as regular exercise and wellness habits.

Following this train of thought makes it easy to add details into your marketing campaign, such as the perfect spf lip balm for a hiking trip or a great aromatherapy roller to use during yoga practice.

Hobbies and lifestyle are really fun details to consider when creating your specific target market – get creative!

The Secret Sauce of Target Market Identification

A customer profile is a description of a set of customers that includes demographic and psychographic characteristics…but taking it ONE STEP FURTHER is really where the connection happens.

These are the details that will make your customer stop and say, “wait…how does this company know everything about me???”
Ideas include:
• Favorite TV shows
• Favorite things to read
• Voice / slang / terminology
• Fashion choices
• Amount of time spent on the internet
Before you tell me that I’m going WAY too far, hear me out.

There are several email lists I’m on that go completely over-the-top with this. Believe me when I say that I absolutely agree there’s a limit to HOW much you try to speak your customer’s language.

Sometimes being subtle IS more powerful.

Having these details in the back of your mind as you write or as you take your product photos will help you stay ‘in-character’.

‘Favorite Things to Read’ Example

Let’s pretend you’re doing a flat lay photo similar to the one below, where your products are peaking out of the handbag along with the notebooks.

If you exchange one of the notebooks for a textbook, you’re going to appeal more towards a student customer base.

If you are doing the same flat lay and throw in a gardening magazine or newspaper, you’d appeal to someone slightly older.

A subtle detail = A BIG difference.

It’s in these small choices that a customer is subconsciously drawn to you, your marketing, and your product line.

And guess what? It is the easiest information to find if you don’t know – simply do a quick internet search: ‘Top TV Shows for Women in their 30s’, ‘Popular Magazines for Women in their 70s’, etc. Absolutely worth the research time.

Creating Your Customer Avatar

A customer avatar is a PERSON in mind (either made up or real) so that you can flesh out super specific details by actually visualizing a human being instead of a list of facts.

Using all of the information discussed above, give this person real needs and desires that will lead them to your business.

What is your customer is actually doing, where are they sitting, what has their day been like? How did they find you and your products? Why are they interested in your line? Why are they interested in your business right now specifically (what problem will you be solving for them)?

The point is to have an EXACT PERSON that you can visualize speaking to as you build a brand they will love.

Next, we will be taking ALLLLL of this information and showing examples of HOW to apply it to YOUR business branding.

How to Effectively CHOOSE Your Target Market

So the BIG question…how do you decide which target market to choose with all of that information given above?

Many people try to make themselves their own market because it’s the most comfortable; however, when you choose yourself as your customer avatar, it’s easy to forget details and assume understanding. Doing full-blown research on someone that is different than you will help you create a complete profile.

I recommend going through all of the above mentioned information (demographics, psychographics, secret sauce, and full-blown customer avatar description) and create a range of THREE different customer types.

There is no right or wrong here, have fun with the process! Obviously you want the information that you come up with to ‘make sense’ together, but give your three customers very identifiable personalities that will help you make clear branding decisions later.

Here are some examples to help you see what we’re aiming for in this exercise:

Example Customer 1:

The Vintage/Grunge College Student

1. Demographics

Age: 23

Gender: Female

Economic Status: the ‘Student’ class (not making substantial income, but somewhat comfortable due to student loans)

Geographic Location: California

Marital Status: Single

Education: Bachelors Degree in Art Education, currently working on MFA in Fibers

Employment: Waitress/bartender at local university pub

2. Psychographics

Religious Affiliation: Unaffiliated

Political Affiliation: Democrat

Hobbies: Thrift store shopping, live music, festivals

Lifestyle: Works hard and plays hard. Loves what she is going to school for, will pull all-nighters when necessary to get a project done. Working at a pub has strange hours, so sleep tends to be her last priority right now. But worth it to get a few extra dollars to spend out with her friends during any free time.

3. Secret Sauce

Favorite TV Shows: Reality TV show junkie

Favorite reading material: Textbooks mostly right now

Voice: 100% current lingo and slang

Fashion: Eclectic vintage, mixing grunge and feminine pieces for a unique look that is just ‘her’.

Technology: Always. On. It. Laptop, iPhone, ear buds, always at hand.

4. Customer Avatar: Make your person come alive!!!

Give your customer a name! Where are they as they are looking at your product line? What makes them stop and consider YOUR products specifically?

Eva is in bed (super late…again), unwinding from a late bartending shift. She has the TV on in the background and laptop open across her lap.

Her skin has gotten away from her over the last month or two, and she has frequent breakouts.

She’s not sure if it’s school stress, her inconsistent sleep schedule, or maybe that sometimes she collapses into bed before washing her face (oops).

Something has to change. Eva is aware of the importance of natural products, but they’re all just so dang expensive. Every time she searches for ‘natural’ anything, all the fancy brands come up.

She hops over to Instagram and sees that one of her classmates has tagged your company in her post about some balm she’s putting on her new tattoo. Intrigued, Eva heads over to your account. Finally…skin care products that are right up her alley. Natural, AFFORDABLE…and not gonna lie, that funky font grabbed her eye.

Example Customer 2:

The New Crunchy Mommy

1. Demographics

Age: 32

Gender: Female

Economic Status: Middle Class

Geographic Location: Midwest USA

Marital Status: Married

Education: Bachelor of Business Administration

Employment: Stay-at-home-mom

2. Psychographics

Religous Affiliation: Buddhist

Political Affiliation: Democrat

Hobbies: Hiking, yoga, a few arts & crafts

Lifestyle: New mommy life. Waking up throughout the night to nurse her baby, trying to get laundry done during nap times, adjusting to not getting as much self-care time as she used to. Social life is texting and the occasional FaceTime call with family. Date nights are at home after baby is in bed, but both her and her husband are still asleep by 9p – this new life is so full of joy, but whoa. Exhausting.

3. Secret Sauce

Favorite TV Shows: Documentaries. Baby Einstein.

Favorite reading material: Anything on Pinterest that is a new momma ‘how to’ (how to meal plan, how to manage time as a SAHM, how to make your own baby food).

Voice: Casual and fun, yet no so up-to-date on what ‘the cool kids are saying these days’ (she’s been making a human for almost a year, after all).

Fashion: Pajama pants and tanks all day every day. If enough energy to run errands, she’ll step it up with yoga pants and a sports bra.

Technology: Lives for her Apple Watch. Who has hands to carry a phone when there’s a baby to hold and laundry to fold?

4. Customer Avatar: Make your person come alive!!!

Give your customer a name! Where are they as they are looking at your product line? Why are they searching for it RIGHT NOW? What makes them stop and consider YOUR products specifically?

Katy has just handed the baby off to her husband who walked in the door from work a whole five seconds ago. Dinner is on the stove, but she just needs 10 (can we make it 20???) minutes to herself.

Her skin is beyond dry since giving birth – it’s so hard to keep up with hydration when nursing and pumping. On top of that, the dark circles under her eyes from strange sleep patterns are making her look like a zombie.

She takes the rare chance to hop on the office computer (it’s quiet…hallelujiah!) to search for some natural skin care options. She gave birth to her little girl naturally, and there’s no way she’s putting chemicals on her body for child to absorb or ingest.

Katy is over the MOON to find your shop because you don’t just offer facial skin care, but also something to help the other current body ‘things’ – stretch marks, sore nipples, and even an organic lip tint that will help her feel a little more ‘put together’…if the occasion presents itself.

Example Customer 3:

The Retired Urbanite

1. Demographics

Age: 67

Gender: Female

Economic Status: Upper-Middle Class

Geographic Location: New York

Marital Status: Married

Education: Masters Degree in Environmental Engineering

Employment: Recently retired from an Urban Design Firm

2. Psychographics

Religous Affiliation: Protestant

Political Affiliation: Democrat

Hobbies: Political campaigning, gardening, illustration

Lifestyle: Adjusting to retired life, yet still busy. Very active in local politics and increasing voter participation. Helps with her grandchildren a couple days a week. On her slower days, she loves drinking tea and tending to terrace gardens with her husband out on the balcony of their luxury apartment. The perfect mix of urban and natural living.

3. Secret Sauce

Favorite TV Shows: HGTV, Planet Earth, the news

Favorite reading material: Historical fiction, gardening magazines, more news

Voice: Educated, politically correct, and kindly thoughtful. Very passionate with a contagious energy.

Fashion: Earthy and natural with an edge of flair. Minimalist. Lot of linen and organic cotton. Prefers handmade jewelry by local artists.

Technology: Texts her children and grandchildren frequently, has a large iMac that she is comfortable using but prefers to read an ‘actual’ newspaper and books.

4. Customer Avatar: Make your person come alive!!!

Give your customer a name! Where are they as they are looking at your product line? What makes them stop and consider YOUR products specifically?

Linda is at her home computer on a Sunday morning, quietly searching for quality organic skin care products.

She is comfortable with the aging process (and embraces it!) – she knows the lines on her face are wisdom and laugh lines rather than ‘wrinkles’.

That being said, she does need a product or two to help make her dry skin more comfortable and a little less rough.

Linda is incredibly impressed with your website and the information you provide about the ingredients in your products. She’s relieved to know that you disclose every single one, which is rare these days. The fact that you’re a small business AND use all sustainable packaging materials are points that she is more than happy to support, even if it means a higher price tag.

Making Your Final Decision

After you complete all three of your own customer profiles and create an avatar for each, you will need to decide which identity you will focus on for your business.

Choose the one that checks all the boxes above (on every platform…your website, social media, directly in one-on-one communication), over the stretch of time.
• Which customer can you speak and write to most effectively?
• Which customer will you be able to ‘speak to’ long term (so that you’re not having to rebrand one year from now)?
• Which customer has enough needs and desires to build an entire product line around?
• Which customer most strongly supports your company goals and mission?
Example based on the above exercise:

AND THE WINNER IS…

Which one supports your goals and mission?

Can you build an entire product line around this person?

• • • Example Customer #2: The New Crunchy Mommy • • •

“The goals and mission for my company are to create a natural, custom-order skin care shop, and new mommies would really enjoy that experience. Their worlds are so wrapped up in their families that it will be lovely for them to feel cared for (and to be able to ask questions to a real person about products if they need to).

I could easily build an entire product line specifically for new moms. This does happen to be ‘me’ right now, but that also means I understand how many natural products would come in handy.

On top of that, I follow many mommy bloggers and social media influencers, so I know I could get eyes on my product line when it’s ready to go. It is a very specific target market, but a BIG one.”

If you followed that exercise through and did it on your own, CONGRATULATIONS on taking your first step towards a successfully branded business – this foundational work is going to pay off in so many ways as you flesh out your skin care company.

I am SO excited for you!!!

This exercise is just ONE step of FIFTEEN that are covered in my ebook, Branding Natural Essentials…a COMPLETE guide to starting and branding your DIY skin care business – FULL of examples like you saw above, plus visuals, tutorials, and links to other resources and information.

The download comes with access to a Google Sheets workbook so that you can literally build your business as you read through the information – by the time you get to the end of the book, you will have a skin care brand that is 100% ready to launch on your ecommerce platform of choice.

WHO IS YOUR HANDMADE SKIN CARE TARGET MARKET?

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Author, Christine Glaser

Author, Christine Glaser

DIY Skin Care Mompreneur, Treesnail Natural Essentials

Christine has spent the last decade making and selling natural skin care products on Etsy, Shopify, Woocommerce, Pattern, Squarespace, +++. She is passionate about teaching other makers in the handmade industry how to build and grow successful businesses to help spread the importance of chemical-free living.

Follow on Instagram: @diyskincaremompreneur