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Managing a Business

How to find customers with a niche market

Not everyone will love what you do.

Everyone learns that life lesson eventually. Aiming high is important, but it’s no use if you miss the goal completely. Since no business has the luxury of appealing to everyone, it pays to prioritize a niche market and zero in on your target customers. That’s how you dominate and grow as a business — by inspiring trust and confidence with audiences that respect your expertise.

In this article, we’ll examine how to identify a niche market for your business and make it easier for customers to say: “This is the brand for me.”

What is a niche market?

A niche market is a specific group of people who might be interested in buying your product or services. They will have common characteristics, such as geography, gender, age, or consumer behavior. 

Choosing a niche market as a small business is a smart way to get a foothold inside a subsection of a broader audience. For example, a large corporation could dominate the bread market, but a niche company may target artisan banana bread fans who prefer homemade food products.

How to find your niche market

There’s no one right way to find your niche market. Try some or all of the following ideas to discover a niche market that brings in ample revenue while allowing you to do what you love.

1. Think small to grow big

Going down a niche path doesn’t mean your business is unambitious. Instead, it’s more about finding a specific audience and providing solutions to them. 

Identifying a niche market is a crucial first step for any small business. Remember, targeting specific groups does not mean excluding anyone. It’s about making sure you appeal to the right people

2. Use search engines

We’ve all been there: you type the first few words of a longer phrase into a search engine, and the auto-complete suggestions give you some very interesting possibilities. Try it out with a niche phrase like “how to eat healthy,” and you’ll get the following results:

Any of these results could be your market niche. In the healthy eating space, you could be the one producing cheap and easy meal ideas for busy college students, offering healthy eating recommendations for people who travel for work, or tailoring your business around customers who hate to cook. Plus, if people are searching for something, it can be an indicator that it’s something you need. If you’re the one person around who can answer these questions, your niche business will be uniquely qualified to succeed.

Now, try clicking on the “how to eat healthy on the road” option. You’ll see results for travel snacks, affordable healthy travel diets, and more. Each of these results is another potential way to find a niche for your business. Beyond focusing on eating healthy, you can focus on eating healthy on the road through travel snacks or inexpensive travel meal plans. See how the extra modifiers tacked on to your search results make a difference? That’s the art of finding a niche.

chicken researching niche market

3. Find out who should you be targeting

When you’re targeting an audience type, you’ll want to know everything you can about them. Think about your business and ask yourself what kind of person would use your product or services. Who are they? 

If a business wants to sell vegan handbags and accessories, then get down to the brass tacks: who buys this? It’s far more likely to be college-educated women in urban cities than middle-aged fathers in the rural suburbs.  

Questions to ask may include:

  • How old are they?
  • What gender are they?
  • What are their likes and dislikes?
  • What’s their relationship status?
  • What job do they have? Are they still in school?
  • Where do they live?
  • How do they spend their weekends?
  • What do they hope and dream about?
  • What problems do they have that you can solve? 

By getting answers to these questions, it will be much easier to create a personalized marketing campaign for your business.

4. Work smarter, not harder

Once you’ve identified your niche market and potential audience groups, it will be much easier to pinpoint your customers and sell to them.

For example, an interior design business in Austin, Texas, may prioritize middle-income homeowners between the ages of 40-70 with incomes up to $250,000. They could specialize even further and target customers who want their kitchens fitted in a classic style. Then, they could even break their audience down into two segments: working families and early retirees. 

Once you have this type of demographic clarity, check out the competition and see what great ideas you can plunder.

5. Good artists borrow; great artists steal

Most business ideas have already been indexed online, so even if you have a grand vision for a new product, you’re still part of an existing sector. Chances are other people will have shared your midnight epiphany, too — so just do it better. 

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As part of your market research, identify what your competitors do well and how they could improve. Go on their websites and social media pages, download their apps, and sign up for their email subscription lists. Read their Facebook posts and tweets and see how they speak to customers.

If they’re doing something right, then you can appropriate it for your business. Big companies, sports teams, and governments are always looking for winning formulas, so if you come across a great idea online, you should grab it with both hands.

Once you know your competitors better than they know themselves, you’ll be in a better place strategically.

6. Test ideas with customers

When it comes to speaking to customers, it makes sense to test your assumptions by chatting with friends or someone who fits your customer profile. Listen carefully to the language they use — words are gateways to human aspirations and motivations.

Social media platforms also provide free audience insights, so look out for news, trends, and topics relevant to your niche market. If you want to feel your audience’s pulse, why not post on Facebook community groups and ask pertinent questions? 

For instance, an aspiring yoga business owner in Cleveland, Ohio might want to advertise on local Facebook groups to see if there’s an audience available.

Alternatively, you can research keywords and hashtags on your favorite social platform and see what people are saying. By analyzing their comments, you will discover ideas that will appeal to your audience.

7. Mean something to people

As you can see, identifying your niche market can be a lengthy process. But if you’re thinking about launching a business, the most important thing you can do is provide value to people. 

Mass marketing is a bit like throwing a fishing net over the Pacific Ocean and seeing what you’ll catch, while the niche approach is more specific and requires bait, skill, and patience. 

Trying to appeal to everyone on the Internet is a waste of effort, time, and money. It’s also impossible. So think very carefully about your niche market and audience share. Any sector or industry you choose, from eCommerce to engineering, will require you to have specialist skills, and that’s where your business can prosper. 

Another big thing you’ll need no matter your sector: a brand identity that instantly conveys your niche and competitive advantage. This way, potential customers get a sense of what to expect with your company and feel compelled to learn more about your offerings. With this learning comes more potential interest in a purchase. And with Namecheap’s brand identity maker, developing an effective identity is an affordable, quick process.

Three niche market examples

What does a niche market look like in practice? Check out these three niche market examples for some inspiration.

Pet owners

  • Why it’s niche: Your best friend may have four legs, a tail, or even slither on its belly, and there are many opportunities to work with these bonded pet-people pals. The pet industry is expected to reach $232 billion in 2021, with more “pet parents” than ever wanting only the best for these members of their family. These niche businesses can be something as essential as a pet supplies, a pet-friendly hotel, or even a bakery that caters to pet-friendly treats.
  • Example: The pet supply store Chewy.com focuses its core business on making it easy for busy pet owners to have the essential supplies they need shipped right to their door. Famously, Chewy sends bereavement gifts to customers whose pets died, a gesture that demonstrates their commitment to their core, niche focus.

Fitness

  • Why it’s niche: The fitness market clocks in at nearly $100 billion annually and growing. Tailoring your products and service to a specific audience is one of the best ways to beat any potential competition. For example, if you want to open a gym, consider offering services that support goal-based training so members can access what they need to get stronger, healthier, or whatever else their fitness goals may be.
  • Example: The International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) speaks to a very specific sub-sector of fitness enthusiasts: those who want to become personal trainers themselves. By pivoting their offerings to this sector, they can focus on attracting serious candidates who want to share their love of fitness with others.

Specialty diets

  • Why it’s niche: Vegan, gluten-free, paleo: Nearly 20% of eaters follow some sort of specialty diet. And if you’re interested in working in the food industry, a specialty diet can mean big business as you tap into enthusiastic communities who are always on the hunt for something new, exciting, and most important, in compliance with their lifestyle. You may want to focus on one specific diet restriction, such as removing the top eight common allergens from your food, or create a business that caters to multiple specialty diet markets.
  • Example: Thrive Market is a membership-based specialty food delivery that lets members filter their choices by more than 70 dietary restrictions. This simplifies a product selection process that can be a significant pain point for those who adhere to specialty diets.

Namecheap’s Visual suite of brand identity tools lets you develop a powerful, evocative website, logo, and business cards in just moments. The Visual platform transforms your branding priorities and values into sites and content that firmly establish your niche and set you apart. Choosing a niche market isn’t easy, but if you get it right, it’s a lucrative way to become a brand authority.

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This article was updated on November 3, 2021.

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Daniel Agnew

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