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Big fan of the new Artisan Soap makers out there. Many of my friends say that there is just to many people getting in the game. My reply is bring the competition, more artisans in my opinion means more good products, different scents and soaps styles. Bring it on.. What are your thoughts. Stay Smooth

Super Moderator
San Diego, Cal., USA
As always, it will be whatever the market can bear.

Michael P, Blade4vor, BPman and 1 others like this post

Central Maine
Precisely. Well said.

Michael P likes this post
Brian. Lover of SE razors. Maker of Krampert's Finest Products.
There are a lot of soap makers out there and the number is only growing; I concur with your assessment.  Eventually, there will only be the number the market will allow.  Making soap is time consuming and the profit margins have to be advantageous in order for them to be sustainable, let alone profitable. 

I think the current growth of Wet Shaving products in general is two-fold:

Only recently has there been push back against the large shaving industry, namely Gillette, over the huge profits they post and their terribly expensive cartridges.  This has led to A. Very successful start ups like Harrys and Dollar Shave Club that sell the same crappy cartridges, only much cheaper, amassing huge cash stocks and B. An infusion of a large number of new wet shavers with the numbers only appearing to grow quarterly.  

These new wet shavers as a demographic, usually end up spending more money by far on wet shaving then they ever did before using cartridges; even if their original intent was to save money on shaving.  What this means, is there is a large amount of "new dollars" infused into the wet shaving market that are up for grabs amongst vendors.  This new capital indicates a higher demand for products, hence, more manufacturers and vendors get into the game because there is capital to be had.

The real question is two fold. The first is of sustainability. How sustainable is this market?  Will the new wet shaver that starts tomorrow and falls in love with the ritual, experience, etc..  Still be in the "game" in five years?  Will they be as enthused and spend as much capital as they do when the practice is new and exciting to them?  Most new wet shavers getting into the practice are in their early thirties to mid-forties.  For the wet shaving industry to sustain growth, men in their early 20's will also have to be willing to give up "time" and money to become wet shavers.  A large portion of the 20's demographic are those that do not shave daily and when they do, it is typically a one pass shave with a cartridge.  This may be attributed to the fact that men were required to be clean shaven in many industries years ago, while today, beards are widely accepted in the work place.  I call this the "Duck Dynasty Hipster" effect.

The second is one of Margins.  It is very easy to make and sell soap via a website and not be in retail locations.  However, at some point production and profitability peaks unless the manufacturer can produce more product and get into more locations and or more "space"  Expanding production, cost the maker a larger amount of time and capital.  Many of these artisans can logistically only make small amounts of product over X amount of time.  Until these vendors can make more product, potential consumers will visit these vendors and see there is no product to sell only to be greeted with "out of stock" on their website.  With so many options afforded to them, inevitably, money these consumers would have spent with the vendor who is out of product, will be spent elsewhere with another vendor and the consumer is unlikely to spend money with the vendor who had no product to sell them.  

Finally, one has to remember by in large, the materials sold in the wet shaving industry are long duration goods.  Soaps will last months before another is needed as will aftershaves.  Further, a good safety razor might last generations.  This makes it crucial that vendors get the new wet shavers "first dollars".  In the long duration goods market like automobile tires for example, profit margins must be high; while in short duration goods like toilet paper, they can be pennies on the dollar. The current influx of vendors into wet shaving products is problematic in that they can't over price their goods if they are to be competitive, but that may be what is necessary to survive long term since they are selling long duration products.

Anick, redrako, Blade4vor and 5 others like this post
I think that the competition is good for us as the endusers. Also, the wetshaving market seems to be growing so it can absorb the additional artisans without a problem. The good artisans seem to have no problem selling what they make. As Freddy said the market will take care of itself.

Bring on the artisans!! Competition is good. It will make the good artisans better and the poor artisans will fade away. We the wet shavers will be left with the best!

DeLuxeShaving, StaySmoothShaving and 1morepasswill like this post
Bob from Virginia
Water seeks its own level and as steeleshaves eloquently points out, the market, with all its vairiables, will react accordingly. Since artisanal soaps are generally small batch family operations, weathering unforeseen market flucuations and/or personal crises may unduly cripple an otherwise successful company. In which case, sadly, a good product may disappear.

BPman likes this post
The best won't necessarily survive for a number of reasons. Lack of marketing for one. They may make the absolute best soap on the planet but just don't have the business skills or marketing skills. Budget for another reason. Soap costs a lot to make, not to mention other start up cost. Time. For many, this is hardly even a second job. More of a hobby so they don't have the time to devote to it even though they make the most awesome soap in the universe. This just scratched the surface as to why the cream may not necessarily rise to the top.

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Lipripper660 and redrako like this post

From my perspective, I doubt we'll see little if any people that enjoy wet shaving go back to cartridges and in that respect, they'll be consuming products for a lifetime. However, you do see their spend decrease year over year as they find the products they enjoy the most. That's not taking into account those that treat hardware and software acquisition like baseball cards. Assuming that the migration to wet shaving continues at the same rate or better than the current spend attrition, the market will stabilize at worst.

Software performance gains are stepped. Something new is introduced into the market and the performance climbs until it planes off and the cycle repeats. I do think the overall climb is slowing, resulting in a squeeze on margins.

There are a number of issues surrounding artisans. Many of us (myself included) make soap as a hobby or side business. And as margins are squeezed, our (lack of) ability to scale will force many to draw back availability or leave the market completely. You're already seeing it with some artisans. Margins vs. supply and retail demand also make it challenging to work with retail partners - which are also increasing.

Michael P, StaySmoothShaving and DeLuxeShaving like this post

Master Saponifier
It's actually going to be the ones who are the most successful at marketing themselves that will survive. Quality of the product is the least important factor in business survival for cosmetics. Why? Because pretty much every single product will work.

Lipripper660, ANG69, Michael P and 1 others like this post

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