With the rising focus on natural and organic, there has been a tidal wave of successful niche brands emerging. Where once a small brand that was focused on a specific type of food — paleo, for instance — may have struggled to scale, today’s micro-audiences are open and eager to accept challenger brands. These new brands and retailers are finding big success by keeping their sights set on smaller and ever-more-targeted audiences. See how these strategies are paying off in terms of rapid growth for smaller brands and retailers, as well as divisions of larger organizations.
Successful Niche Players
Brands are not the only challengers, as evidenced by niche retailer Erewhon. Their focus as a boutique grocer is on high-quality food that is healthy for their shoppers. Says David Sheldon, VP of engagement for Retail Design Collaborative of Erewhon, “The result (of this niche focus) is that they are not the biggest brand on the planet, but they have an extraordinary brand following. Those are the types of evolutions in brands that we are seeing a lot of right now.” This major shift is indicative of the movement away from larger retail locations such as malls and towards a more intimate setting where shoppers can connect directly with the brands they believe in passionately.
Similarly, the Bulletproof coffee brand is utilizing deep dives into shopper data to determine their best and most profitable buyers. These consumer insights help fuel brand growth by offering a greater ability to understand what went right (or wrong!) with new product launches and sales to create an endless cycle of learning and iteration. Their rich and highly detailed vision of their customer journey is what allows them to define and expand acquisition pathways. Bulletproof established themselves as a premier lifestyle brand by meticulously crafting their product to support their mission of helping people “unlock the vast potential of being human.”
Individuals involved in Crossfit are intensely tied to the lifestyle, so a brand that becomes an extension of their community is certain to resonate. LifeAID recently discovered the depth of the devotion of this core demographic when they were anointed as the Official Recovery Drink of the 2017 Crossfit Games. Getting the LifeAID product into gyms that provided Crossfit training allowed FitAID, a sub-brand, to appeal directly to Crossfit devotees with their balance of electrolytes, vitamins, and other ingredients that fit within the lifestyle. With more than 4 million shoppers worldwide dedicated to Crossfit, what started as a niche market has expanded into a global phenomenon.
Niche Marketing Strategies
While these brands are all targeting different market segments to drive growth, there are some basic takeaways that can be leveraged for brands of all sizes. Retail experiences continue to grow and evolve, becoming more experiential as shopper micro-segments grow in loyalty to their brands.
- Erewhon found success by taking the time to understand the subculture of their target demographic and using that information to speak a shared language.
- FitAID was able to take advantage of the deep conviction around staying healthy that is a hallmark of CrossFit users and extend that devotion by creating a holistic product story that spoke not only to the physical but also emotional needs of the audience.
- Bulletproof showed how they used data to determine who their best customers were, and expanded their prospecting throughout the user journey. This allowed them to drive additional purchases and retention, and improve the support they provided to their shoppers.
Each brand or retailer used a specific lens to understand the core needs of their audience and create a strategy that appealed at a granular level by targeting their messaging.
Your bottom line is not the only winner when you decide to micro-target your audience towards a specific niche — shoppers win as well. Studies show that shoppers appreciate personalized ads that solve their problems and speak to their needs. However, there is a fine line between helpful and creepy, and it is important that retailers and brands alike are cognizant of where to draw the line. Consumers are on alert due to recent news on political targeting, and they’re becoming more aware of advertising that knows “too much” about their buying habits or lifestyle.
Finding and nurturing an engaged audience is more important than ever, and niche marketing strategies used can be utilized in a variety of ways.
- Don’t become distracted by global transient audiences or other sub-markets. Stick to your core demographic and feed that niche.
- See how your brand fits within the lifestyles of your target audience, and play to those needs and desires.
- Find a sub-culture that is already thriving, and see how you can meet their needs on a more granular level.
- Let your data lead the direction of the conversation that you have with your shoppers and prospects. Meet people where they are on the path to purchase, and look for ways to nurture them through the next steps.
The complexity involved in marketing to today’s savvy shopper is intense, with heavy data requirements and deep dives into analytics. Personalization and customer segmentation are how smaller and more nimble niche brands are finding success. The good news is that large and established brands have many of the tools in place already that will make this evolution achievable with the right data.