Why Specialized Markets Succeed
When many people consider ecommerce, their minds jump immediately to large retailers. This makes perfect sense; ecommerce giants have bigger marketing budgets, high sales volumes and legions of loyal customers. All of these efforts aim to boost their top-of-mind awareness among a wide audience.But that’s not to say there’s only room for large or mainstream retailers in today’s ecommerce marketplace. Rather, the beauty of the internet is that it supports many kinds of stores, large and small, mainstream and niche.
Thriving in a niche market entails taking advantage of the fact that sometimes customers have specific needs unmet by stores and brands currently available. In other words, niche ecommerce brands often find success addressing customer concerns and interests as part of their business plan.
Identifying Consumers Concerns and Interests
What are consumer interests and concerns along the ecommerce journey? How can niche companies disrupt certain segments of markets to carve out a space for themselves in a crowded ecosystem? First of all, as Ad Week writes, many niche online sellers “have discovered consumer groups that need a simpler way to buy products, and as a result, are filling holes to meet their specific needs and at the same time diluting some brands’ identities.”
One example is Brandless, which sells a given number of products for one low dollar amount. Consumers can choose to pay $1 for shipping on their first purchase and $5 on each subsequent order or become a member for free shipping. This niche aims to serve customers who are not hung up on buying brand name merchandise because it typically costs more. In so doing, Brandless has found a way to appeal to a target audience currently underserved by major retailers.
Here’s another example: Clothing is a very broad segment. There are many stores selling t-shirts, athletic clothes, business casual garments, etc. A retailer interested in jumping into the clothing market may benefit from thinking more narrowly. For example, a clothier may choose to sell eco-friendly clothing. Their marketing would hinge on differentiating their store from the pack by mentioning that their product lineup is fair trade and free of artificial dyes.
Or, a brand may choose to make simplicity and convenience its main selling points. Its product catalogue would then focus on a few best-selling products rather than dozens or hundreds. This makes the choice easy for the consumer, saving them time as they shop. The design of the website would also have to support this aim; an enterprise ecommerce platform comparison would help the seller find a fast, functional platform with the right back-end functionality to best serve their growing niche brand.
Staples of Successful Niche Brands
Niche brands absolutely must understand their target audiences inside and out. When you’re trying to capture the patronage of a more specific subset of consumers, your marketing and merchandising must truly resonate. Create an estimated composite of your ideal customer base and conduct extensive research to establish who’s actually interested in buying your goods when push comes to shove. It’s equally important to conduct market research to understand what features and attributes will be advantageous for your product lineup.
You must also know where to find this target audience online. Connecting with customers on social media is a must, both in terms of driving traffic and providing responsive customer service on behalf of your brand. Niche brands even have a certain advantage in this arena because they can often provide attentive, personalized customer service in a way broader company cannot.