Entrepreneurs often tell the story of how they came up with their business idea: they saw a need, and wanted to solve it or, they saw a market trend, and they wanted to capitalize it.
But it's a rare combination of problem-solving and trend-spotting that led two working moms-turned-entrepreneurs to prototype a product and get it onto the shelves at Target and Buy Buy Baby within a year of launching.
Launched in 2016, their product line Oilogic Essential Oil Care soothes and comforts common everyday issues from bug bites to stuffy noses, made with a blend of pure essential oils.
Their successful product story starts with spotting market trends, creating a simple solution, and breaking into the consumer packaged goods (CPG) market with a brand that connects to people.
Spot Market Trends
Worth Anne Herrell and Jordan Morrow were new moms returning to work after their short maternity leave, creating presentations, pitching products, and leading teams by day and after work, cooking dinner, wiping noses, and tucking their kiddos into bed.
They often talked about their kids at work, seeking advice from other working parents about tips and products for things like coping with a fussy baby.
A co-worker introduced them to essential oils, a plant-based oil said to create natural comforting effects to common ailments. A solution for their kiddos they could take home to soothe the sniffles or upset tummy.
Morrow recalls her reaction when she learned of essential oils. "I was stunned. I was at my wit's end losing sleep with late nights rocking my cranky baby and early mornings back at work. A natural solution to help me and my baby get a good night's sleep? Sign me up!"
While it was months later that they started to prototype their product, the two moms would talk about how this type of product was going to see huge growth opportunities. They investigated the market opportunities for new product lines in this space and felt it was a rising trend among new parents seeking natural solutions.
Lesson: Even when not first to market, early market trends can be the breeding ground for new products to enter the marketplace. It gives entrepreneurs foresight into potential market growth opportunities.
Create a Simple Solution
Herrell recalls her first experience with essential oils as both exciting and daunting. "I was excited to have something natural to use and try with my family but was overwhelmed by the work it took to use the oils correctly--mixing and diluting before applying. In the end, I did it incorrectly and put too much oil on my child, causing a rash. I felt like a failure."
This was the product differentiator moment. They first-hand felt the need for a more simple solution that gave people a safe, effective solution.
They saw the current products in the market, a multi-level marketing company with a product that was too complicated--requiring an investment in money for the kit and instruction-heavy time for the application of the oils. Both felt like barriers that they, and it turns out other moms, were craving a solution to.
Lesson: When building a new product in an emerging market space, take the core values of your customer to heart. Build the product that solves the core needs and don't lose sight of that.
Break Into the Consumer Package Goods Industry
It's one thing to have a great idea, it's a whole other ballgame to create the product and get it onto the shelves of the big companies like Walmart or Target.
Morrow and Herrell consecutively prototyped their product idea to their consumer market--moms--and their business customers--CPG and manufacturing industry leaders. This two-pronged approach helped them to more efficiently bring their product to market sooner.
"In one meeting we would show the prototype to other moms and they would hold the product in their hands, eager to test it, and excited about the product and brand. The next meeting would be with a buyer from a big chain and they would be excited by the concept and eager to launch something like it for an emerging market." Morrow shared.
While a daunting task to prototype for both the B2C and B2B buyers, the effort paid off. The moms would give key feedback on what they valued in the product and the buyers would direct what would need to happen for it to be sold in their stores. Balancing both pieces of feedback meant for a better product.
Lesson: Product validation from all stakeholders early, and often, can save on development time and improve the overall product at launch.
The moms continue to evaluate and grow their natural essential oil products and have expanded their lines beyond babies and toddlers to older kids and adults. They continue to leverage trends, align with values of their customers, and build upon products that are resonating with their consumer and industry buyers.