Marketing a business is expensive. Very expensive.
One of the most common ways for businesses to manage their marketing expenses is to focus on a precise market segment; one small enough for them to effectively target with their advertisements.
The days when companies could run one standardized marketing campaign across the country - and have it be effective - have long since passed. In the global economy, consumers are practically spoiled for choice; and with the markets so saturated with competition, the only way to break through to people is to target their niche interests.
In this article, we will explore the mechanics behind identifying and developing your niche audience: where to find one, the tools you need to succeed, and some real-world examples of niche marketing.
A niche audience is any subdivision of your company’s target audience. Breaking your consumer group up into multiple segments allows you to better define the wants, needs, and specific interests these customers share.
Marketers are typically unable to capture the attention of niche audiences with undifferentiated marketing. These audiences have specific, defined needs that can only be met by a target product.
In the case of the soda-drinking market, a target audience might be “cola-drinkers” - whereas the niche audience is “diet cola drinkers looking for new flavors”.
Niche markets are far easier to manage and market for than a typical mainstream audience. Getting started is cheaper to start than traditional marketing; making it an attractive option for startups looking to get the most out of their marketing dollar - while building up a loyal customer base along the way.
As the name implies, niche marketing involves developing products that seek to satisfy the needs of small, targeted groups of consumers.
Niche markets can differentiate themselves from traditional markets in a number of ways:
Niche marketing allows companies to differentiate themselves from their competitors. If you can offer something that no other brand on the market can offer customers, then you have found yourself in a uniquely advantageous position. People enjoy having their tastes catered to - and when they find a brand they feel “gets them”, they are likely to remain loyal to that brand. You can earn yourself a lot of goodwill and free promotion with niche marketing!
Look at the shelf of any aisle in any American supermarket, and you will find at least 10-15 different variations of just about every single product you can think of: potato chips, popcorn, candy, soda, cereal, frozen meals, toothpaste, cosmetics, etc. If your product is featured on a 3rd party digital marketplace, that number of competitors can easily double or triple.
Tailoring your ideas to a niche audience makes the product more visible/valuable to your audience. The more unique the product offering is, the greater likelihood it has of standing out and attracting customers.
The best way to ensure your product captivates your audiences is to have a thorough and complete understanding of what the needs of your customers are.
There may be 20 different flavors of potato chip on offer at the supermarket - but your target audience is only looking for one particular flavor; if you’re the only brand that offers what they are looking for, then your competition doesn’t stand a chance.
Businesses often pivot to niche marketing once they have already captured a significant portion of the larger market. Continuing with the potato chip analogy, we can assume that everyone has access to buying regular, salted potato chips; this does not mean that every customer wants to buy those chips.
The way companies penetrate established markets is by micro-targeting their products to niche audiences - those whose preferences have yet to be captured by existing product offers.
The best way to identify your niche audience is to review the features that make your product unique; then, matching those features to the appropriate audience need.
Answers to the questions“who is my product for” and “why should they buy (it)” should guide your niche marketing efforts. Depending on who your target audience (business, individuals, etc.) is, you may need to adapt a unique strategy in order to effectively reach your customers.
If you are having difficulty trying to discern what shared traits and beliefs make your audiences niche - ask them!
Gathering feedback from your audiences is one of the best ways you can ensure you’re getting accurate and pertinent information about your customers. Asking them questions about their demographics, hobbies, shopping habits - all of these things will give you a better understanding of how to satisfy their needs more effectively.
Imagine you own a business that deals in athletic wear. It’s safe to assume that people who buy athletic wear do so with the intent of using it for sports; therefore your target market - predictably - are athletes.
Inside of the athletic wear market, there are many unique consumer groups:
If we dig in even deeper, we can find dozens of differentiated audience niches within those existing consumer segments:
We could go on naming increasingly unique and differentiated audiences. Segmenting your market into distinct niche audiences creates a clearer picture of what types of customers your business caters to. The closer your product can get to meeting all the niche specifications your customers are looking for - the more likely they are to continue buying from you.
There are many online resources available to help you define your niche audience and their interests.
Google Trends - along with its sister software, Google Analytics - are powerful niche marketing tools. With Google Trends, users can look up specific keywords to see how they have performed over time on Google’s search engine. With Analytics, business owners can gain new insights into the performance of their website, mobile app, and more.
Amazon’s built-in search function allows users to search for products by category - or by niche interests. Because all of the items in Amazon’s listings are ranked by popularity, users can delve deep into their target markets - scouting their competition, and noting what types of niches are not having their needs addressed.
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