Why Choose Small Batch Production
What is all the fuss behind small batch production?
Well, basically is because we aim for quality over quantity and profit. But first let me tell you what is considered ‘small’.
The first step to release a new product in the market is to create a 100-200 gr sample. Once you are happy with the texture, scent and performance (stability) of the product you then produce a small lab batch of 1 to 5 kg. In general, this first batch is mostly used for several (non-animal) lab tests that are required to check preservative efficacy and product stability.
Before going into full production — this could range anywhere between 200 kg to 2000 kg or more — a brand would first produce a ‘pilot batch’ of 25-50 kg. Why? Because the risks of product instability are high when you step into a manufacturing batch of 20 kg or more. The differences between the lab-size batch and the manufacturing batches are huge — the machinery required for mixing, the turnover of the product, significantly longer heating and cooling times, fillers, homogenisers…etc. The large batches may require the addition of some ingredients to make them more stable and well preserved. Therefore, if you go to a manufacturing facility that produces small batches, you will find that the minimum amount considered ‘small’ is 25 kg—equivalent to 500 face cream jars .
Small lab batches (from now on I will call them ‘micro batches’ to establish the difference) are easier to keep well preserved and stable over a 2 year shelf life as a result of shorter heating and cooling times, the equipment required, the control of microbial contamination and many other factors that influence the making of a product.
Have you ever heard of or experienced a product recall? This is what happens when a large batch goes wrong and results in an unstable product after it has been marketed. I experienced this with a product from l’Occitane in 2008 (when I had my natural perfumery store in Spain). I had to get in touch with the clients who had purchased these products and ask them to return them so they could be returned to the warehouse. Brand uncertainty (which affected collaterally my natural perfumery) made the entire process very stressful.
Fresh is an important key word.
What is also important to understand is that small brands that sell freshly-made micro batches don’t need to invest the same amount of money in marketing, distribution, staff etc that a large company does— all costs that are added to the price of the product you purchase— but which don’t add to the quality of the product.
Small brands can therefore focus on the quality of the product – offering the finest ingredients for the same price that a large company would for average ingredients. In short, it’s a matter of choosing where you want to invest your money. Let’s say a brand has a product budget of $10 (market price). This brand needs to choose the percentage or amount that will be allocated to each cost which makes up that price (such as ingredients, marketing, distribution, staff, branding and packaging). The less you need to spend on marketing, distribution, staff, branding and packaging, the larger your budget for product formulation.
Genuine sustainability at its best.
Micro batches are quickly distributed and sold to the final consumer therefore by supporting micro-batch production we are reducing our carbon footprint. In addition, producing micro-batches also consumes less energy by far. I know that the fact of a bunch of people switching to this type of production won’t take Australia from its 3rd position in the rank of higher carbon emission per capita (ahead of US and Canada) but every action has an impact, no matter how small it might be.
According to a recent study, 77% of women use less than 10 beauty items regularly. As a result, women waste an average of 5,846 beauty products in their lifetimes. The reason behind it is that —as a general rule— brands are producing more than we need; therefore they invest huge amounts in marketing to make us think we need to consume more. At the end of the day, we may end up buying it but not using it as the study shows— hence, generating more waste. I don’t want to bore you to death with the ugly numbers, but I’ll tell you that the reason for me to create multi-functional beauty products, and all-in-one has been this one: the reduction of waste.
In short, the appeal of goods produced in micro batches —that are professionally made and comply with all the safety regulations—is their freshness and greater stability as well as the higher allowance within the product budget to select better ingredients. As a bonus, this type of production will impact positively in a more sustainable approach of beauty representing a real change.