When starting a business, one thing you need to know is if the market can support it. A lot of people have a “million-dollar idea” but find that they lose money due to competition. Chances are, you’re here because you have a desire to start your own candle-making business. While the candle market is, in fact, saturated, you can find out more about how you can stand out from the crowd and get your share of that “million-dollar idea.” But why is it saturated?
Why is the candle market saturated?
- Candle uses are limited.
- Candle making is dominated by large corporations in big box stores.
- Most niche candle companies are filled.
- More people are getting into candle making from YouTube.
- Online homemade goods stores are saturated.
While this might be the case for the candle making industry, there are ways around that saturated candle market. Read on to find out more about why it is saturated and what you can do to get around those issues to find success.
1. Candle uses are limited.
The first reason that the candle market is saturated is that the uses for candles in the modern era are limited. In the old days before lightbulbs and flashlights, candles were essential and were not just used for decoration, but survival. In most of modern America, that isn’t the case anymore. Candles have been relegated to the luxury item status, even if they are on the low-end of the luxury item spectrum. Luxury items typically don’t get used as often, therefore they aren’t replaced as often.
Candles today are typically used to make a room smell better or for absolute emergencies like power outages. Some people also use them for meditation. The frequency of candle usage and replacement varies wildly. In other businesses where the market is highly competitive, there are a lot of people who need the product or service frequently.
How do you combat the fact that candles are a luxury item? That can come with finding your niche product and marketing. Make your candles vital again to your customers—create a calming scent for those doing yoga or meditation, or a clean scent for those wishing to bring a freshness to their homes. While candles used to be necessary, you too can find ways to make yours vital to the comfort of your customers.
2. Candle making is dominated by large corporations in big box stores.
It’s no question that most candles can be purchased in your large corporation big box stores like Yankee Candle. No small business can live up to the marketing and mass production of candles like that, nor can you continue to produce candles that are constantly consistent—homemade candles are just that, homemade, and will vary from candle to candle.
Not only can these companies make more candles than a single candle-maker, but they also have a more visible presence in the marketplace. Go to any major big box store and you will find a reasonable selection of candles in various styles, sizes, and scents. Stores that specialize in low-end luxury goods or products designed to make homes smell good (such as Bed Bath and Beyond) also have a lot of mass-produced candles.
But you don’t need a big box store or a large-scale corporation selling your candles. With the growth of Internet shopping, all it takes is a web presence and enough time and effort to market your candles before you can start making sales. With social media apps like Instagram or TikTok, with the right content, you can go viral—and that sort of attention you can’t truly buy.
You can also look into wholesaling to local shops. While half of the world is shopping online, the other half is focused on local businesses—and you can take advantage of that. Look into local boutiques and shops to see if they’re interested in wholesaling your product to their customers. A great way to bring more focus to your candles and market them is creating your own local line of scents. People like the novelty of scents based on businesses or esoteric things in their hometown, and you too can capitalize on that.
Besides online and a physical shop, you can also sell your candles at craft fairs, farmers markets, flea markets, and state fairs. Most booth rental costs are low and you can easily turn out a profit from one of these events. Like the signature scents for your local area, consider making a special scented candle for each event, meaning your customers could be walking away with a limited edition.
What is the best way to promote your candle business?
3. Most niche candle companies are filled.
A key to getting around a saturated market is to find a niche, like your favorite sports bar. For some markets, such as candles, there are fewer known niches—some consumers are more environmentally-conscious and do not want to buy candles made from paraffin, which is an oil-based product. Others like candles with joke fragrances like grass or bacon.
When these ideas come forth, many people will copy, so how do you combat that most niches in candles are filled? You find a new niche.
You are only held back by thinking inside the box, so it’s up to you to find a new niche. Look at what candle makers are providing in the market, and you can always find some group of people or interest that is underserved. Look at your own life and how you use candles, and consider what kind of candle could make a difference. And don’t feel like you’re limited to just getting creative with your scents, dyes, or molds—people can easily turn into customers by what your company does. Whether it’s selling candles that are completely supplied and made by Americans, or you donate part of the funds to a charity of your choice, these are all niches that you can still sell within.
4. More people are getting into candle making from YouTube
The landscape of YouTube has changed since it went public. Once a place where people could film themselves doing funny things with their friends in pursuit of Internet stardom or uploading old shows that didn’t have DVD releases, better cameras and ease of uploading has allowed people to start getting major followings with instructional videos. Gone are the days when you must take a class at the community center or read books to learn a hobby—you can find just about anything on YouTube.
Thanks to the ease of access, many people are learning to do things like making candles from home. A lot of these kinds of videos saw a spike in popularity in 2020 as people were learning new hobbies to fill their time.
In forums about candle making, the question of market saturation has been brought up and the answer from veteran candlemakers is that the market was saturated. It’s true—the markup for most candles is about 50 percent, so people making candles at home can save about half when they do so.
So how do you push against that oversaturation? Again, it comes down to perseverance and marketing. How do you work with the people checking out videos on YouTube or making their own candles at home? You reach out to them, too. Consider creating your own candle making kits for sale, so people can make their own candles with your signature scents or create your own How-To videos to garner support on social media. Where one person may create their own candles, in another, you could gain a customer. Don’t shy away from YouTube—people use it, so you should too.
5. Online handmade goods stores are saturated.
Etsy, the premier site for people who make goods at home and want to sell them, has countless options for candles, and all of them try everything to stand out from one another. They do everything from making joke candles with intentionally bad smells, candles with sarcastic remarks on the label, to lewdly shaped candles.
How do you fight against an oversaturated shop market? There are two ways—find a new niche or take your business elsewhere. You can create your own shop and your own website so you do not have to use a site like Etsy or eBay, and that way you can drive your customers directly to your products—and only your products. It is very easy to create your own website through Wix or WordPress and you can purchase a subscription through Shopify that can make your entire website for you. If you’re worried about not being found online, there are ways around it, and it all lies with you.
When it comes to selling your candles online, there are challenges—like fighting with an oversaturated market. But with perseverance and good planning, you can breach that market easily. Focus on providing the best customer service you can, with the best product you can, at a fair price. It all comes down to marketing—how are people finding out about your product? What are you providing to them? What makes you stand out from the rest of the crowd? If you can find that, you too can breach the market and find your part of the candle making community.
Is candle making an expensive hobby?
No, candle making is not an expensive hobby, and you can save money doing so. The profit margin for most candles on the market is 50 percent, so you can save up to half on a candle by making it at home.
Are there other barriers to selling homemade candles online?
Cost and shipping will be your largest barriers to selling homemade candles online. By necessity, it will cost you more in materials and labor than companies that can make their candles with machines with materials they get at steep discounts. Secondly, shipping is a factor. Sometimes it is more convenient to go to the store for a candle. You can easily combat this with buying your supplies in bulk and making sure your prices are well within your budget to also give you a profit.
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Please note that the contents of this blog are for informational and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Any action taken based on the information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Additionally, all images used in this blog are generated under the CC0 license of Creative Commons, which means they are free to use for any purpose without attribution.
Meet Shawn Chun: Entrepreneur and Candle Business Fan.
I’m a happy individual who happens to be an entrepreneur. I have owned several types of businesses in my life from a coffee shop to an import and export business to an online review business plus a few more and now I create online candle business resources for those interested in starting new ventures. It’s demanding work but I love it. I do it for those passionate about their business and their goals. That’s why when I meet a candle business owner at a craft fair, farmers market, retail location or anywhere else I see myself. I know how hard the struggle is to obtain and retain clients, finding good employees all while trying to stay competitive. That’s why I created Candle Business Boss: I want to help candle business owners like you build a thriving business that brings you endless joy and supports your ideal lifestyle.