Natural Deodorant: the rigorous testing of this high-stakes product
Posted on September 26 2017
People often ask us to make various products, and we are a highly democratic company, so we often entertain these requests. One such oft-requested products is deodorant.
If you remember from my previous post on How to make body wash in one million easy steps, the first step is researching market viability. In the case of both body was and deodorant, the volume of requests is enough to establish market viability.
The second step is where we always get stuck with deodorant: the ingredients and process to create handmade deodorant (natural or not) is complicated. The packaging and ingredients are expensive. When we do the cost evaluation, we end up with a product that would cost about $25 for one stick of deodorant.
At that point, the market viability drops off. Not many people would like to buy deodorant at $25/item, even if it is amazing stuff.
And furthermore, handmade deodorant is notoriously ineffective. As a stress sweater (someone who sweats from stress, not a sweater knitted out of stress), the effectiveness of the deodorant is very important to me. I want to be able to go to the gym after a long day of work, and not worry about reapplying and/or offending everyone at the gym.
We had been facing the prospect of $25 deodorant that doesn't work, which violates our central driving purpose of "making people's lives better."
Months passed. Years passed. The deodorant project was shuffled to the back of the product development queue. But when my friend from Handcrafted Honeybee offered free samples of her natural deodorant, I got some.
It worked. It really worked.
We chatted about what it would take to make some Outlaw Soaps deodorant, and she said she could make it for us, but at a price not much better than what we could make it ourselves. *sad trombone*
Back to the end of the product development queue. It wasn't the day for deodorant.
A few months ago, we were re-evaluating our product development queue, and I decided to ping Stacia about the deodorant again. From time to time, I like to revisit things like this. Turns out, she had refined some of the processes, and the price crept down a little... I fielded the question to the Outlaw Soaps Labs group (our product forum for customers - join if you're inclined!)
The thing is, even with the price drop, it's going to be more expensive than standard deodorant. The price we're looking at is around $16 - $17. Before we went through the expensive and time-consuming process of product development (which includes such expensive steps as designing all new labels and having professional photos taken), we wanted to make sure people would even want it.
The response was mixed, to be honest. It's a lot for deodorant, and I know that.
But there were enough positive responses that we decided to go through the process of having Stacia make some prototypes for us. I mean, heck, if they work this well, they definitely fall into the category of "making people's lives better."
Stacia agreed, and we were off to the races. I got the first prototype last week, and started using it almost immediately, as my only deodorant.
Trust me, friends: this is high stakes. I don't want to get too into my personal life, but my armpits aren't a delight to smell at all, even under the best of circumstances.
So, how's this newfangled natural deodorant working?
I went to the gym on Friday: no problem
I went on a tour of the Empire Mines Saturday: no problem
I went for a hike on Sunday: no problem
and then ... in the highest stakes of all ...
I didn't take a bath, and then I went to the gym on Monday afternoon without reapplying
I am happy to report that Krista, my trainer, is still alive after this photo.
She said, "You smell great!"
Yep, even grody and sweaty, I smell "great."
I'm going to hand the other two prototypes to other rigorous testers (existing customers who have been very enthusiastically asking for these), so we're officially entering the final phase of testing before we get labels made and place the big order.
Are you excited for deodorant? Let us know!