In e-commerce, there’s no such thing as ‘too niche’. As more and more e-commerce brands zero in on micro-communities, customers are responding with explosive spending.
Data from Shopify shows global e-commerce spending at $3.5 trillion this year, which means it’s more than doubled since 2015. That number is projected to go up to $4.9 trillion by 2021. This is a good time to be in the business of e-commerce. If you’re already in it, it’s time to strengthen your presence in your niche. If you’re just getting in now, you need to find a niche that fits you.
No niche may be too small, but not selling enough is a major concern, of course. Which is why casting a small net can feel risky for many e-commerce startups — even more-so when demand for your industry is on the decline. Here’s how brands can be effective at building market share when demand is dwindling.
Use Marketing To Educate People And Increase Demand
If a niche is small or untapped, it might be that people are simply waiting to be informed. They may not even know what they’re missing. And that’s your marketing opportunity.
“We knew we had the challenge to educate people through content and advertising,” says Santiago Zabala, CEO and co-founder of Shapermint, an online shapewear company offering top-rated brands from around the world. The company doubled down on a market when demand was tapering off, banking on an opportunity to grow.
“We identified shapewear as an untapped opportunity, an industry that could be transformed with the right messaging and education about the product. It was a multi-billion dollar industry solving an important need, and we saw it to be extremely limited because of its reputation, similar to makeup at the beginning of the 1900’s that was totally transformed into what we know nowadays,” says Zabala.
Change The Conversation To Create Demand
Based on 2018 market reports, demand for shapewear was in decline as Shapermint entered the market. They had to generate demand and change the trend, and they aimed to do this through marketing content that doubled as educational material.
“An important part of our strategy is actually to change the conversation and to educate the market about shapewear and how to use it, while making it a ‘normal’ foundation piece in every woman’s wardrobe, like makeup or jewelry” says Stephanie Biscomb, the company’s brand manager.
The success of this approach exposed a clear unattended market. According to Shapermint, 48% of their customers had never tried shapewear before.
The moral of the story? Don’t give up if your niche seems obscure, underserved, or even in decline. Educating the public can transform markets, correct stigmas and biases, and create demand.
Find A Growing Niche Outside Your Geographical Location
The customers looking for your product might not be in your backyard. And the beauty of e-commerce is that you can focus your brand on markets in any location, so don’t limit yourself. Think about who your buyer persona is, and then find out where they are. When you do find them, make sure you’re marketing to your niche in a culturally meaningful way.
“For e-commerce businesses especially, having a thoroughly fleshed out buyer persona is vitally important, because it’s not enough to only understand what your customer needs and wants on the surface, you need to understand their entire psychology to create and sell your products effectively,” says consultant Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré, who specializes in B2B SaaS.
It might be hard to stand out if you’re a fashion house in New York, for example. But bringing New York fashion to Jaipur could give you the edge to outperform market benchmarks.
Find A Niche Where You’re Already Knowledgeable
Preliminary market research is essential. But you can’t rely on it solely. You’ll have an advantage if you happen to be a member of your target niche or have a focus group you can tap into. Otherwise, you might misstep with costly mistakes.
“Establishing yourself as an expert in your niche is one of the primary ways for you to gain credibility,” says e-commerce thought leader Ryan BeMiller. “If folks look to you for your expertise and insight, they’re going to be more likely to buy the products you’re selling.”
No single strategy will work for every brand. Serving your target market wherever they may be located, and educating the public through marketing campaigns to see your demographic grow is as close to a sure fire strategy as you’re likely to get. So don’t keep those customers waiting. They’re out there, waiting for your product. They might not even know it yet.