Private Label or Contract Manufacturer? What’s the Difference?

Private Label or Contract Manufacturer? What’s the Difference?

Private Label vs. Contract Manufacturer: What’s the difference?

If your New Year plan includes the launch of a new, personal care product collection – you’ve come to the right place. Mansfield-King has created a series of articles to help educate and support new brands looking to find their spot in the $135B personal care market. Part 1 of our 4 part series focuses on the launchpads for personal care products: Private Label and Custom Development.

Unless you plan to make your lotions and potions in the bathtub, most personal care brand dreams start with locating a manufacturing partner to help create, blend, fill or dial-in your formulas.

Each partner comes with their own benefits, and understanding the difference between the two options will save you time, money and ensure the best chance for your brand to get off the ground.

What is Private Label?

This option is best suited for small scale – such as individual salons or market tests – where you only want to change an aroma, color or packaging option. Essentially, private label is working within formulas and packaging owned by the manufacturer with a small degree of customization available.

  • Advantages: Fast, low minimum order quantities, formulations.  Great for a market test, a small market, individual salon, small retail shop, spa, etc.
  • Disadvantages: Low customization, may not be able to add/remove ingredients to accommodate your brand vision, address your specific concern, or on-trend ingredients. Ownership of formula generally not available, or only under very specific conditions.
  • Are you suited to Private Label?

    Yes, if you are a salon, barbershop, ecommerce, spa, retail shop looking to build your brand and maximize your profitability with lower investment risk, all while working with one vendor.

What is Custom Development?

You’re in total control. A custom development personal care manufacturer is your co-pilot, with you in the driver’s seat. You will work together and co-create formulation – all based on your specific needs/wants. From price points, to ingredient profiles – and everything in between – whatever you are looking to feature, package and market a custom development personal care contract manufacturer can help you achieve your goals.

  • Advantages: Highly customized. Formulas are developed around specific retailers/distribution, specific hair/body needs, target market segment. Path to formulation ownership after a certain volume has been reached.
  • Disadvantages: High volume requirements (along the lines of 8-10k unit minimum)  + due to the complete custom nature (custom formula development, stability testing, lead time on custom bottles/labels – it might be upwards of 6-12 months before product is ready to ship) = slow to market. *but, we think it’s worth it!*
  • Are you suited to Custom Development?

    Yes, if you are personal care brand looking to expand your product offerings, want/need absolute flexibility to customize your formula and packaging design.

Between these two options – Private Label and Custom Development –  there is something for every player in the personal care market space. Having a solid understanding of your market, customer needs and competitive space will always be important – as well as ensuring your partner has the quality, attention to detail and creative energy your dream brand deserves.

If you liked part 1 of our 4 part series, be sure to check out: “Are You Ready to Launch Your Personal Care Brand?”

At Mansfield-King we specialize in the Custom Development – where we provide exceptional formula development and product launches/extensions for mid-size and larger national brands. Learn more about us, here:  If Private Label is more appropriate for your personal care collection goals, please consider reaching out to our sister company – (LTI- Liquid Technologies:  to help guide you through a private-label project.