What is niche marketing?
Niche marketing is where a business targets their product to a specific section of the market based on certain distinctive characteristics. These characteristics can include lifestyle, gender, location, or culture. Niche marketing can be used to reflect a business’s ethics or values, or to target groups with specific needs and requirements. It is also a strategic method of fulfilling a specific demand that is not being catered for. Here we discuss the benefits of niche marketing, and how to target your audience when they reside in a very specific area of the market.
What is the purpose of niche marketing?
Niche marketing allows a business to focus on targeting a smaller group rather than trying to appeal to the masses. Its suitability for different businesses will depend entirely on what that business model is and what it offers. Within a given subset of an audience, even more specific niches can be identified - for example, a broad niche could be vegan products, but the specific niche could be vegan cosmetics.
However, it is crucial to make sure you do your homework with your brand or an upcoming product to understand your audience and their requirements. You want to avoid falling into the trap of releasing a product that although may be new to you, is not new to the world. This means you may run the risk of targeting a late majority and becoming a 'laggard' to an already well-established product within a niche. In fact, promoting your product as something new and innovative will likely put off the very market you want to target.
What are some examples?
You may be creating products or services for a specific group of people, even if your entire brand isn't specifically catered towards them. Again, you want to make sure you research the product you are wanting to produce, has it already been well-established and how big is the demand compared to the competition?
Plus Size Clothing
A current example to think of here is 'plus size' clothing. Many popular fashion retailers including ASOS and New Look have plus size clothing lines to appeal to an audience of women and men who need clothes that fit their body types. However, a lot of these brands would be considered early to late majority pragmatists as they were not necessarily early to incorporating the niche into their overarching brand. Regardless, by doing so they have been able to showcase brand values such as inclusivity. The chances of these customers returning to retailers who offer a product or service created with their individual requirements in mind will increase if they feel they are being catered for. This is a way to include more potential customers, especially if they already use the brand for other products such as shoes or accessories.
On the other hand, some brands base their entire business model on occupying a niche. In this case, you may see that there are entire brands dedicated to selling exclusively plus size clothing - take Curvissa as an example. This form of niche marketing can be a risk, as the target market is so specific that it can be overcrowded, or conversely, not a viable segment for marketing. However, when pitched right, this can lead to an increase in loyalty and retention if the customers have a positive experience. Generally, brands catering exclusively to one niche are likely to provide more variety in the products or services being offered. In the case of plus size clothing, customers may think of Curvissa straight away the next time they need new clothes. Again, this depends on how early the brand began catering to the target audience. Today it may be hard to start up an entirely new business catering for plus sized clothing when the market is seeing a plethora of brands already providing the same service.
As another example of exclusively niche brands, take the left-handed products store Lefty's. Although the demographic for left handed people is relatively small, with studies showing that approximately 1 in 10 people fall under the category, Lefty's will be appealing to this market for tools or novelty gifts. Lefty's would be considered an innovator for left-handed products as they recognised a demand that wasn't being fulfilled in an easily accessible way. However, the Lefty's business model is more of a humorous take on general consumer products, and they predominantly rely on novelty value to sell their range.
As mentioned, niche marketing targets a specific group who generally will be more likely to buy from you. Returning to the Lefty's example, although right-handed people are less likely to be interested in making a purchase as they are not the target audience, they can purchase products for left-handed friends and family that they know are gifts that suit their requirements. Niche marketing can also be beneficial when targeting messaging such as pay-per-click adverts or during your SEO keyphrase research, as you will be saving money by targeting a smaller, more specific group of people from the outset.
What are the benefits of finding a niche?
A key benefit to niche marketing is customer loyalty. If you are providing a specific product that caters to your customers' needs, they will be far more likely to return. This is especially the case with products that will need to be repurchased. An example of a brand like this is Lush. Lush’s entire brand is based around ethical, sustainable and organic cosmetics.
A glance at Lush's website highlights their commitments to having minimal or recyclable packaging, no animal testing, the ability to cater to vegetarians, and ethically sourced products. Each of these factors will appeal to very specific niches such as animal rights enthusiasts, 'green friends', premium bath product fans, and so on. In Lush's case, this comes with the business benefit of consumers needing to repurchase the products once they are used up. Lush targeted this demographic early on, to the point where they became innovators and visionaries in the industry. This can be seen when other similar bath products are compared to Lush's offering, because it has established itself as a benchmark and leader within the niche. By providing products that match specific consumer needs and lifestyles, customers will also be more likely to return the next time they need that product.
How to find a niche
Finding what niche products to create in order to occupy a need may seem like a challenging task when you don't know where to start. You are likely to already have your niche, but you may not know whether you are ticking all of the boxes. A simple method of finding what your target market is looking for is through a Google search. If you search for 'vegan skincare', you can simply try plugging in phrases to trigger the autocomplete. These are based on popular searches which is a straightforward way to see what your audience is looking for.
Simply start to search for your product or service, and then insert 'for' after it. This will come up with a range of possible areas to explore. If you want to gather more insight, you can then go through the alphabet to see what comes up with searches such as 'vegan skincare for a...' or 'vegan skincare for b...' to craft a more in depth idea of what your audience is looking for.
To summarise, niche marketing is a great way to target products to a specific group of people. This can be whether your brand operates around a specific market, or you have a product or service that is relevant to a niche group. Alternatively, you may be filling a specific demand that is not being catered for, which can be promoted through strategic marketing and insight.