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How I started my own private label

When I created Mandarin-Gear I had a vision of creating a brand that will be recognized as affordable and high quality. But I was also in need of more customers and make them trust in “Chinese quality products”. I needed a product and a brand that customers could trust in terms of quality, service & follow up.

The idea was to be inexpensive but still offer high quality products.

When I decided on consumer electronics I looked at the manufacturers and what they offered. There were a few that had quality-products but lacked the marketing and sales part to become bigger or attract more customers. They were sitting back and waiting for customers to come. They also created products that didn’t fit the market. Apart from the standard items that sold well, they had a few innovative products but the finishing and quality was often poor or not attractive for big buyers.

So I started to talk to 1 of my suppliers about my idea and what I wanted to do. I didn’t want him to OEM or design something for me. I took his existing product and wanted to make it better and sell it myself. So the next step was to think on how to achieve that.

I didn’t have enough money to invest in designs, new tooling and heavy marketing. BUT, I could take the suppliers product and make it more attractive for buyers.

Here is what I did as my first project, a Bluetooth speaker branded with my own private label:

– I requested to change the color of the product to a more appealing one

– I requested the outer material to be rubber finish

– I asked them for the added cost using a better driver & speaker to have better sound

– I asked my friend to create a layout/packaging for me based on my ideas. I knew nice packaging is effective.

– I prepared presentations & a PDF with nice photos and detailed descriptions

– I revised the instruction manual with proper content and grammar

 

When I thought about the packaging I wanted something that really stands out and people would love. So one day I went out grocery shopping and grabbed a product from a shelve in the store and saw the “nutrition facts” on the back of the packaging. This was something that could work! I gave the idea to my lay outing company and asked them to put the “nutrition facts” of my electronic product on the packaging. I put the essential technical information on it and came up with a few fun facts too. I also wanted it to be matte finish, so it looks like real high-end packaging.  Here is how it looks like on my products:

All this cost me little but I had a much more presentable product already. I took this step and did it for about 10 products which made my first catalogue. The catalogue you will find under this link is the current and updated one of 2015.

It really astonishes me that Chinese suppliers have so little knowledge of western trends and how customers perceive their products. The first sample I saw of that Bluetooth speaker looked so cheap because it was shiny plastic finishing.  When it came to my finishing I was really happy with the idea to have rubber finish. It gave the product a completely new look and impression of high quality.

Remember, this was all on paper. I didn’t actually ask the supplier for a new color sample, change the finishing, improve the sound quality or print my packaging. But, I did have to cover all these steps in theory to see if I can find customers based on my modifications. I did however ask for the costs for every process. Be it the color box print, the upgrade of the components for the product or the MOQ (minimum order quantity) needed for my specific color. When I got the first feedback from customers I made samples.

This process applies to pretty much every product. Be it a household appliance, fitness product, clothing, tool or whatever. The products are ready, but there are so many options to make a much nicer product out of an existing item. Think outside the box.

Look at a product from a supplier and think about what it would take for you as a consumer to buy it. But remember to keep it realistic and not to change the entire product in the process, probably involving too high extra costs.

This was the easy part. Now I needed to make sales.

Note: I did have help on the layout part because they usually charge for this kind of service. But you can ask your factory to make a layout for you. They should do it for free. Just give them your ideas and guide him until you are happy with the result.

Leave a comment


Helga Baumann

4 years ago

Great! I´m really astonished about your ideas and what you make out of them! Big compliment!
It´s interesting to read! More of it!

James

4 years ago

I’m a little confused by the part about finding customers and asking for feedback before you ordered the modifications. How do you do that?

Manuel

4 years ago

Hi James,
I did this offline, working with retailers, not online. So before I placed an order for the product I showed pictures or samples to the potential customers and get their feedback first.
Best,
Manuel

Max

3 years ago

This is what great design thinking provides.

Manuel

3 years ago

Thank you 🙂

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