How niche marketing has changed the world
If you’ve ever been down Pier 39 in San Francisco (one of our favorite places), you have seen Lefty’s, a quirky retail store filled to the brim with products designed to make a left-handed person’s life easier. Back in 1978, Lefty’s was called “the Left Hand World” and was in a much smaller space, as the original owners didn’t have many products to sell. As the first retailer of left-handed products, however, the idea immediately garnered a substantial fan base, and was sorely missed when the Left Hand World left the pier 10 years later. Due to the incessant requests to reinstate a left-handed products vendor, Lefty’s opened in 2008 with house-designed products and a deeper love for the 10% of the population that is left-handed.
Yeah, left-handed office supplies are an oddly-specific thing to sell so close to Fisherman’s Wharf. So what made Lefty’s so successful when its target market is nowhere near as massive as, say, Walmart’s? Well, for one, they know how weird they are and they own it. They don’t have a “right handed” section or mass produce printing paper on the side: they stick with the people that use their products and encourage a bit of pride in their uniqueness. Because of this genuine attitude, left-handed people and the people that love them have taken notice for past 40-ish years and work hard to keep the place running. It was a service that was missed when it left the pier and customers don’t want to see such a drought again.
When you find your people, your biggest supporters, it’s hard to go out of business. So one of the key things you can do if you are struggling to find your niche with your product or service is to define who your target market really is. Research can help with this. Putting the concept in front of the general population for your service or product can help identify those who want to identify with you. If you have been in business for a time, then putting some numbers behind the beliefs you have about who is buying you–that can be truly revealing. More often than not, in our experience, there have been some real surprises when a company profiles their customers. It’s the Moneyball principal. Let the facts destroy conventional wisdom so you can make better decisions.
Another area this can be helpful is with pricing. We know from years of research that consumers seek out premium things at premium prices. But when surveyed or focus grouped in traditional ways, the answer you will get is always going to be ‘lower your prices.’ Think about it. What person in their right mind is going to tell you to raise your prices? Asking consumers if the price is right or what price they should be paying for your product is about the stupidest way to go about it. Really. Here, we take our cue from behavioral economics as well as clinical testing, and instead of asking people what they would want to or expect to pay for a product, we conduct a controlled experiment and gauge market potential at different price points. Then, and only thne can you get a sincere reaction from people about what they would really pay–because they don’t know you are focused on price. They just know they are being asked to make a decision about what they would buy in an almost real world situation.
There is so much more that research can tell us, especially when your questions are as unique as your niche business. The big brands don’t wonder about the same things you do and they have much bigger budgets to spend on asking their questions, so it almost seems like research is a luxury meant only for the big guys. But here at TripleScoop we know that the right questions are the difference between success and failure. And because we’re in a niche kind of like you are, we want to make the right question just as easily accessible to you and your budget.
You can stop flying by the seat of your pants and get some solid direction: let’s set up a time to figure out what questions we can help you answer so that you can be going in the right direction for your passion project/livelihood. We think that what you do can change the world so we want to see you succeed.