Perhaps you are apprehensive about starting a business venture. There are so many different types of marketing and so many details to consider that you might think it is premature to ask, what is niche marketing? Definition is easy, however, and, in fact, niche marketing is really the most accessible and effective approach for individuals looking for a side hustle or small businesses looking to expand their share of the local market.
The Concept of Niche Marketing
A market niche refers to a section of a market; the niche is defined by a unique cluster of traits that its constituent customers have. The traits can be related to needs, spending ability, location, age, gender, sexuality, career, level of education, and much more – in fact, almost any trait could put someone in a niche.
Often, the object of niche marketing is to find a niche that is largely ignored or underserved. In many instances, this is because no one has actually defined the niche as a targetable group. Once you define a niche, you design your advertising campaign to fit the niche’s needs. Accordingly, niche marketing is also sometimes referred to as concentrated, or focused, marketing.
Niche marketing is a great foundation for a small business or a digital marketing campaign. However, it is not just for startups or small enterprises. Massive corporations also engage in niche marketing, but generally corporations operate with relatively large population niches. Ultimately, it is a business choice: businesses of all sizes have to decide what approach will give them the most profit.
The underlying philosophy behind niche marketing is that, sometimes, it is more profitable to target almost every member of a certain group (the niche), rather than to advertise a product or service to everybody and gain relatively few customers.
However, it is not just a matter of advertising: Maybe trying to figure out what you can sell is why you are asking, what is niche marketing? Definition in this case can go in reverse. Seeking out a niche is a great way to decide what sort of business you would like to start or develop. Sometimes, it is not just about finding a new or underserved niche; if you think you can outdo competitors in a well-established niche, then go for it.
Why This Is More Than Just Marketing
You might be thinking that niche marketing does not sound like anything new; it just sounds like normal marketing. After all, everyone has seen advertisements that use the supposed needs of a certain group to convince them to buy a specific product. (For example, adds with beautiful models touting the unique benefits of a certain wrinkle cream. This is clearly playing to older women’s supposed need to look young and beautiful.)
In some instances, advertisements even cleverly convince a certain group that they have a need they otherwise would ignore. A common approach is to make image-conscious people feel that they would be less appealing without a specific brand of a product. Also, ads sometimes present previously acceptable life events as problems that have to be solved (and the company’s product is the only answer).
It is true that all of these approaches essentially are niche marketing, in that they focus on a certain group while mostly excluding society as a whole. However, traditional advertisements are still normally aimed at very large groups, and they are often displayed relatively indiscriminately. A lot of this has to do with the advertising media that have been available (TV, radio, newspaper, magazines, etc.). The digital world has made targeting smaller groups, and even individuals, much more cost effective.
Niche Marketing as a Form of Micromarketing
Niche marketing is a form of micromarketing. Micromarketing is an approach that was first introduced in the UK – it involves using location and demographic traits to pinpoint very specific groups, sometimes even individuals, for advertising. You might be thinking that targeting individuals does not sound all that cost-effective, and, in most instances, you would be right. A possible exception might be a very expensive product, such as an ultra-luxurious car.
However, there is yet another possible way to make targeting an individual worthwhile: influencer marketing. Influencer marketing is a relatively new approach, in which a business targets a specific person or few people who are found to influence a larger group.
As is the case with niche marketing, influencer marketing is highly facilitated by social media. However, some instances of influencer marketing have been going on for a while: movie stars are often highly paid to wear a certain designer’s apparel; this is great influencer marketing, since stars not only have high visibility but they also have a fan group (that might contain definable groups, or niches).
The practice of micromarketing often implies the use of multivariate statistical analysis to identify a small, very specifically-defined target group, sometimes called a micro niche. The massive increase in available data from social media makes the statistical determination of groups much easier. It is becoming ever more possible to target groups that would be almost impossible to pinpoint and/or access without social media and big data (the collection, storage, sharing, and analysis of huge volumes of data).
As great as all of this sounds, you might feel cynical. We have all been targeted for advertisement that we are not at all interested in. For example, if you are a young female watching YouTube videos, you are likely to get bombarded by little advertisement boxes for clothes and jewelry; you probably have to watch at least a few seconds of ads for birth control or scented candles before getting to the content you want.
All the while, it is possible that you do not want any of these products. It seems that focused advertising fails a lot, and when it halfway works, it can make people feel watched. (You might be asking questions such as: “How do they know I am looking for window air conditioners?”“How do they know I suffer from depression?”)
Digital Media and Technology Promote Niche Marketing
So yes, digital advertisement and niche marketing still need to be improved considerably. Niche marketing based on internet data is often accurate enough to be invasive but not accurate enough to be truly helpful. Hopefully, improvements that make data-sharing more secure, ethical, and efficient will remedy this.
Traditionally, a problem with niche marketing is that it does not have economy of scale. That is, it tends not to become cheaper per targeted person as the number of people targeted increase. However, more efficient and strategic use of internet and social media data are already remedying this.
The above points are probably out of your depth if you are an individual beginner who just wants to find a niche and pursue it. A completely free and ethical way to find a niche is keyword research. There are free websites that can help you with keyword research, but the simplest way is to enter some words related to your business on a search bar (Google, Bing, YouTube, etc.); see what recommendations the search engine makes, and keep experimenting. This way, you will get a feel for what other people are looking for.
Good Resources to Help You Learn More
A basic internet search (What is niche marketing, niche marketing courses, or just niche marketing) will give you many webpages, video tutorials, and even online courses on the subject. Below are some excellent sites to look at. Even if you do not ultimately use their services, just perusing course content and web services will give you an idea of what is possible.
Udemy, an online education site, offers about a dozen different niche marketing courses. Plus, it offers many courses in relevant areas, such as traditional marketing, digital marketing, and web development. Other popular online education sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Lynda also have relevant videos and courses.
Autopilot is a website with services that allow you to make niche marketing more of an automated process. You create a template to be used for a certain customer category (a potential customer, a loyal customer, etc.) and the service will send a personalized communication (email, social media message, etc.) in a timely manner to those individuals. The site has a blog with great digital marketing advice, and the site is integrated with relevant web services as Salesforce and Slack. Autopilot definitely makes niche marketing more cost-effective for larger businesses.
Why This Is Helpful for Everyone
Niche marketing approaches, at least in a general sense, could help any online campaign, even a non-profit. Niche marketing gives you the power to direct your content to the people who need/want it most. On the consumer/receiver side, focused advertising makes it easier to find good products or content for you, so it would be ideal for the consumer if everyone used a niche approach as much as possible. That said, as a marketer, you do have to look at the information and resources available and assess whether a broader campaign might be more beneficial. Also, niches might change over time. A marketer always has to assess what works, what might work, and what probably will not work.