The Benefits of Being Weird: How niche marketing has changed the world

Updated: Jul 9, 2018

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. Knowing who you want to talk to is usually one of our first questions when we start a research project. Those biggest supporters are the people who can usually answer the questions you have, and it's important to us that we talk to the right people. The first step to finding your target takes a bit of introspection. Here are some questions to ask yourself that will help you get started on discovering who your niche market is populated with:

  • Who comes into my store/on my website the most?

  • Who do I want to come into my store the most?

  • If my customers were my friends, what would we do together? Apart?

  • If my customers were movie characters, what would their story be about?

  • What other stores/services do my customers shop at/for?

Once you find a few of your people, you probably need to find more: we promise there are more out there. Knowing where to start with marketing--beyond the word-of-mouth you have been working with so far--is not the easiest task. And that is where research can save you. Research can tell you things like how your customers found you in the first place, what they were looking for when they found you, and what other needs they have that haven't been met yet. That can start you on ideas for how to get your ads in front of the right people and your branding buzzing in the right ears. Research can also help you track your progress, giving you insight on how well that campaign for your handmade hiking boots for cats is going. If it's important for you to know, it's important to us to find out.

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.