Retailers trying to target a niche market can face many challenges. Here, founder of online larger-size clothing store Box2, Nicky Felix, reveals some approaches for overcoming them.
Niche markets are often double-edged swords. Many assume that markets are only niche because nobody has thought to exploit them yet, but it is seldom as simple as that.
A lot of work is required if a business hopes to establish itself and target a niche market whilst sustaining a steady flow of customers, especially when that niche is within a major industry, such as fashion, beauty or technology.
Here are some of the challenges retail business owners frequently face when trying to target a niche market, and the steps that can be taken to overcome them.
Newcomers and oldtimers
Regardless of where your company sits on the business landscape, to target a niche market takes a lot of work. If you manage to spot and claim a niche market before anybody else does, then you have a lot of pioneering ahead of you, including identifying, reaching and attracting your target customer.
On the other hand, if you are joining the ranks of a niche that is already populated, your hard work will be aimed at distinguishing yourself from the crowd, crafting yourself a unique identity and establishing your own niche within the niche.
Your sub-niche could be where you source your products, how they’re made or who by, the styles or age range you work for. Whatever you decide upon, this sub-niche must be central to every dimension of your business if you want it to find its footing.
Finding and attracting your customers
When attempting to target a niche market, it is highly likely that the customers you hope to attract are more sparse and sporadically located than you think. So, tracking down your ideal customer and making sure your marketing reaches them (and impacts them) should be part of your plan.
The internet has made this easier, and today there are lots of ways to spark the interest of your target audience, and target a niche market.
There are industry-specific websites, magazines, online groups and forums that offer a higher concentration of likely targets, which you can also put to good use for market research, networking and advertising.
Well-designed adverts, placed on the right pages or publications, can be pivotal to taking off in a niche market.
High street or online
The advent of the internet enabled thousands of new companies – of all sizes and industries – to emerge every year, and the majority of these would never be able to operate a sustainable business on a high street.
Ecommerce has been a haven for niche businesses in recent years, due to the accessibility it gives between companies and their customers.
Depending on your chosen niche, the likelihood of an actual shop finding a big enough local customer base to keep trade going is difficult to impossible.
The additional overheads associated with maintaining a physical shop can be the factor that sees niche businesses crumble. If your chosen niche is a particularly modest one, the ecommerce format is your best bet, in terms of practicality and costings.
Delivering the service
Achieving a wide enough reach to get to the right kind of customer, and enough of them, is a common struggle for niche businesses, and keeping customers engaged once you’ve found them.
This is why when you target a niche market you must pull out all the stops and do what you can to build a close relationship with your customers.
They are far more likely to become loyal to you if they feel your loyalty in return. Make sure to find a decent ecommerce software that will help you monitor and analyse your customers’ buying behaviours, as once you have built a profile of each customer, you are in a much stronger position to tailor your service to the individual.
If you are getting into a seasonal niche, make sure to pave the way for the downtime, by establishing an open channel of communication with your customers, and keeping them in the loop all year round.
If you make an effort to make your customer feel appreciated, you stand a far greater chance of maintaining the loyalty you need for longevity.
To target a niche market is no mean feat, and before getting into one, you must be fully prepared for the challenges ahead.
However, if you prepare yourself for the hurdles and thoroughly plan how you intend to get around them, you can target a niche market and successfully establishing yourself within it.
Nicky Felix is the founder and owner of Box2 which began as a retail store in Brighton, and is a now a successful online shop with a range of clothing items and accessories in larger sizes.
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