It’s the most common response we get when we ask a client who their target audience is. Unfortunately, it’s not the best answer. You know the saying, “when you try to be everything to everyone, you end up being nothing to anyone?” It’s the same for marketing and branding. While it may seem that narrowing in on a niche market would limit your reach or sales, businesses and brands that are communicating their message to a clearly defined market are actually more successful.
By trying to appeal to the masses, your brand’s message gets watered down to the lowest common denominator. And as a result, your product or service doesn’t have much impact. Instead, your brand should identify your strengths and differentiators, so you can better understand the audience your products or services would best serve. Then, you can start to create authentic messaging and the appropriate experience for those potential customers.
Niche marketing is the result of honing in on a very specific target audience for a particular product or service. As the room of people you are looking at gets smaller, it will be easier to be more targeted with your marketing efforts and speak directly to the needs, values and desires of your customers. If you’re still on the fence about branding towards a specific market instead of “everyone,” here are 3 examples of niche marketing done right:
1) Online Dating/ Dating Apps
Dating in the 21st century is a lot more complicated than courting your significant other with love letters and a date to the local soda fountain. The internet age opened up an entirely new way to find love. Since Match.com launched in 1995, there have been numerous online dating sites that offer the same services to singles, such as eHarmony and OKCupid. All sites essentially provide the same service— match-making, though the methodology and process varies slightly.
It didn’t take long for these large companies to see the value of niche marketing and invest in brands that target smaller segments of the “singles looking to mingle” market. Match.com, for example has sister sites like Black People Meet, Our Time (ages 50+) and Big & Beautiful People Meet. There’s even a dating site specific to farmers! By providing a service to very niche markets, it’s not only easier for these brands to target their customers, but for the customers to find partners with similar lifestyles and values.
2) Dollar Shave Club
In March of 2012, Dollar Shave Club launched a YouTube ad that forever changed the face (no pun intended) of the start-up company. The video went viral and the flood of traffic caused the company’s server to crash in the first hour. Within the first 48 hours, they received over 12,000 orders! Dollar Shave Club took a product that nearly all men need and created a service based on cost and convenience. Customers simply select one of their “great blades” and Dollar Shave Club ships them out monthly.
The razor isn’t necessarily anything extraordinary and it’s not like walking down the Personal Care aisle at the grocery store is overly exhausting. But, Dollar Shave Club provides something special — an experience. The brand’s personality speaks to 20-something males who want to look good for less. The first promotional was fun, creative and used comedy to get the message across to post-grad dudes on a budget:
“Each razor has stainless steel blades and [an] aloe vera lubricating strip and a pivot head so gentle a toddler could use it. And do you like spending $20/month on brand name razors? $19 go to Roger Federer! I’m good at tennis. And do you think your razor needs a vibrating handle, a flashlight, a back-scratcher, and ten blades? Your handsome-ass grandfather had one blade AND polio.”
3) Stitch Fix
Shopping for new outfits can be a pain, especially if you’re pressed for time, fear dressing room mirrors, or have absolutely no sense of style. Enter Stitch Fix, a personal styling service that mails (free shipping!) customers hand-selected clothing and accessories items for a one-time styling fee. In an article for the NY Times, Stitch Fix Founder, Katrina Lake said she had expected her market to be women on the go in their 20s and 30s, “but it turns out that concept really resonated with moms and people who were busy with their kids and families.”
Stitch Fix aims to make shopping fun and effortless for women on the go who want to look good and feel good in stylish clothes. While their target market actually shifted from their original expectation, the brand still identified a need for a service that would be valuable to busy women.
Niche marketing, when done correctly, can lead to booming business. Dating sites, Dollar Shave Club and Stitch Fix are examples of businesses that targeted a particular product or service to a specific group of people. Niche marketing, however, is not an easy approach to marketing and branding. It takes a lot of time, energy and foundation work to find out who you are, why you’re better than competitors, who your product or service is for and most importantly why they need it. Your brand can not be everything to everyone, so you might as well speak to the people that will value it most!