How to target a niche market
Finding our edge
(Read web version.)
There are hundreds of different types of cheese. Many of these will be someone’s favourite; mine is Comté. There’s no universal agreement on which is the best cheese and this will be the case for any type of product. We do not all think the same way. Marketing is the art of empathy and making a positive change for those we seek to serve.
This post suggests ways to develop and position our products to meet the unmet needs of a group of people, our niche market.
What does better mean?
Others don’t know what we know or believe what we do. We all have unique experiences and a dialog in our heads that does not match anyone else’s. That is why we will never agree which cheese is best or any other product, for that matter.
The price of products can be easily compared. Consider a £20 bottle of wine versus one that costs £10. Is the more expensive wine twice as good? Probably not. If we then consider more subjective aspects such as status, taste or attractiveness, it becomes clear that many attributes are not easy to measure or compare.
Your product is not for everyone
It is not possible to force others to see the world the way you do. It’s far more effective to pick a group of people you wish to serve then engage with them. It makes no sense to attempt to develop a product that appeals to everyone as it would likely appeal to no one.
Better is in the eye of the beholder
The assessment of what is better is down to the subjective judgement of each individual. One person may care about environmental impact and be on a tight budget. When shopping they will likely have favourite brands in mind that they consider best for sustainability with a low price. By contrast, a neighbour, who is concerned about luxury and status within a group, buys higher end brands.
The people you seek to serve choose products based on hundreds of factors. They care about a range of inputs and experience many emotions. They are not simply looking for the cheapest.
Early adopters crave new things
Early adopters are the group of people who seek out and try new things. This is an important group that kick start new products. They get excited by discovering new things and bragging about them to others. They are very forgiving when things do not quite work, but move onto the next thing when the thrill of discovery wears off. By contrast, adaptors adjust to changes in their environment; they may not like it but they cope.
As a product developer you’ll be torn between trying to satisfy the needs of the early adopters and the adaptors. Sometimes the focus will be on creating new things for those who are easily bored. Other times you’ll be trying to build capabilities that will last and appeal to the broader market. The key question to ask when developing something is, who is it for and what do they want?
Positioning your product
For virtually any product, consumers face a bewildering array of options to choose from. When the world is full of hype, consumers become skeptical and walk away. However, we can choose to stand for something worth trusting instead. Start with the needs and wants of a specific group of people. This involves going to the extremes, finding an edge that sufficient people care about.
In relation to the product you are considering developing, the method is:
Draw an XY grid with the origin in the centre.
For each axis, choose an attribute that people care about, such as, price, speed, performance, ease of use, style and sustainability. So, for example, the X axis might relate to price and the Y axis to ease of use.
Plot every available alternative that your potential users have on the grid.
Analysis of the completed grid allows you to see where your product could sit in relation to the alternatives. It may reveal an opportunity to differentiate your product by positioning it at the edge of the chart, e.g. easiest to use at a good price.
In step 2, when we look at the list of available attributes to choose from, it is tempting to pick ones that most people care about. It’s hard to claim an edge and foolish to pick attributes that few care about. If you pick the most popular attributes, you’ll be competing in a crowded quadrant and find it challenging to claim an edge. The better alternative is to choose axes that have been somewhat overlooked and a related quadrant where you can be the obvious choice. By doing so, you give yourself a good chance of meeting the needs of underserved people who can’t wait to use and advocate your product.
This is Marketing book by Seth Godin
This is Marketing interview with Seth Godin
User Growth by Phil Martin
This post considered ways to position your product to meet the unmet needs of a group of people, your niche market. Next Sunday’s post considers what a former FBI hostage negotiator can teach us about improving our everyday negotiations.
Until next Sunday, think about the attributes of your favourite brands.