1. a small, specialized market for a particular product or service.
"the product is very much aimed at a niche market"
Definitions from Oxford Languages
With the world getting smaller, it is amazing how people can find a community for their passions, no matter how weird and wonderful they are. Whether you’re a miniature horse pottery collector, into throwing javelins or just enjoy painting portraits of your cats, you’ll be able to find an active group of people who are into the exact same thing. No longer are you alone painting with your cats, now you’re alone with your cats, together with a horde of lonely cat portrait painters across the globe. The Internet really is an amazing invention!
For each hobby, passion and craft comes a multitude of specific groups. The more niche, weird or unique the group is, the more active engagement from members. These groups are the most incredible resources for people looking to design products. Members will tell you exactly what they want, or what they looking for… because as a niche, they’re not always catered to from the mass producers.
Yes, there is a point when you can go too niche. If you do some research and find that there are only two other people in the world that use clothing pegs to recreate burial scenes from the hieroglyphics on Tutankhamen’s tomb, then you may have gone too far. But if you can find a large enough niche group who are actively looking for product solutions for their passions, then you have a great business waiting to happen.
Not only will your target market be more defined than Brad Pitt’s jawline, but you’ll also have an engaged community of people, who are willing to give you all the info you’ll need to make them a product that they’ll be happy with. The qualitative research you can draw from these online communities and the willingness at which they’ll give this data freely, will amaze you.
Whether you’re a product designer, or just fall upon a good product idea for a niche market, here are a couple of tips on what you can do to give your design a better chance at success.
Find a real specific need and design a product that solves it simply.
Imagine an older woman, let’s call her “Grandma Pat”, has lost the function in her left hand. She has always loved knitting and doesn’t want to stop knitting those cartoon character themed onesies for her grandkids. After going to a number of stores and searching the net, she can’t find a solution that works for her.
Now Grandma Pat may not have a design background, but she has a problem that needs solving and motivation to get knitting again.
Choosing a niche market you know not only saves you on research, but it also means you could already be engaging with your future customers.
Let’s carry on with Grandma Pat’s story. Say after some trial and error, she comes up with her own product and a technique that allows her to start knitting again. And after engaging with her online knitting community, she not only realises there’s a market for her product, but she also starts getting some requests for it.
When you design a product with a very specific function, it becomes easier to build a brand around it as you already have a USP (unique selling point).
Grandma Pat now knows that she’s onto something. The cogs start turning, and after a chat with her brand savvy daughter-in-law, she decides to build a brand for her product. The “Knit Wit” is born - A smart knitting needle that allows someone to knit with one hand (which essentially becomes her USP).
Your market is already looking for you. You just need to help them find you.
Grandma Pat has a product and a brand with a USP. She has answered those requests for the “Knit Wit” on her online community and sent them their products. Now what? She hires a friendly web designer to build her a simple site. He adds the glowing product reviews from her first customers to the site, links it to her social media channels #KnitWit and also puts a blog section in. Grandma Pat starts to share her community’s designs and stories of how the product has helped her and others with some smart SEO phrases like “knit with one hand” to get her top of the searches.
Authors: Recollective Agency and Dylan Cooper