The notion of developing one’s own line of skin care products to offer patients and, possibly, the general public, may be inspired by the sight of infomercials for very popular formulations designed by dermatologists, or hearing about practitioners who sell their own product lines, or even the realization that such a step just seems to be the logical way to expand a successful cosmetic dermatology practice. Regardless of its origins, the prospect of starting one’s own line of products is pondered by an increasing number of cosmetic dermatologists.
On the surface it may appear that the act of developing one’s own line of skin care products is a scientific enterprise; however, the bottom line is that designing one’s own product line is very much a business. The process may include science (although, unfortunately, it often does not include enough), as it certainly includes chemistry. However, designing a line of skin care products involves much more than just scientific knowledge. Business experience, which many cosmetic dermatologists may lack, is required. This chapter will discuss the challenges inherent in starting one’s own line of skin care products.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER BEFORE DRAWING UP THE BUSINESS PLAN
Before embarking on the arduous journey of initiating one’s own line of skin care products, it is advisable to explore the motivating factors. Specifically, it is incumbent upon the professional who is weighing such a business decision to consider the following questions: Why are you thinking about starting your own line of skin care products? Are your patients consistently dissatisfied with what they find on their own or with formulations for which you offer either a ringing endorsement or, maybe, just a tepid nod? Is your chemistry background sufficient? Do you have an innovative approach to product development? Are you simply trying to take the next step in the evolution of your thriving cosmetic dermatology practice? The practitioner who asks such questions might find that the answers stop them in their tracks or lead them to getting their feet and hands a little dirty in a challenging new business.
THE BUSINESS (AND COSTS) OF DEVELOPING SKIN CARE PRODUCTS
Few, if any, cosmetic dermatologists who contemplate this venture are chemists. Therefore, it is unlikely that physicians preparing to launch a product line would be able to create the formulas necessary to develop new products. In this scenario, thousands of dollars in investment would be needed to accompany the creation of new formulas. In most cases, however, the physician is striving to rebrand quality products already on the market. Essentially, this means going to manufacturers and paying them to tweak current formulas with signature ingredients so as to differentiate their brand and package them under the physician’s name for limited distribution. In a few cases, the dermatologist may pay to test a new formula before generating the new line.