Selling niche products is a great strategy when creating an online shop. There are literally millions of online shops around the world. If you can manage to identify a niche market and find products that appeal to this audience, you can really make your shop stand out, gain a loyal following, and make a lot of money!
Note: this blog article was updated on May 31st 2019
The definition of a niche market is a highly targetable segment of a specific market. Consumers in a niche market can be seen as a subset of a larger group of consumers who have very specific requirements and desires for the products they purchase.
In layman's terms, a niche market is a group of consumers who are passionate about a very specific industry or genre of products. They tend to be very picky when it comes to buying products related to their passion.
Since these consumers are a small portion of this market, most mainstream providers don’t accommodate them specifically.
This, in turn, opens the door for smaller companies to focus their products towards this specific group of consumers. Because this niche market is often a loyal group, they are willing to pay a bit more for the kinds of unique products and services that they are passionate about, especially since they are not so easy to find.
A niche product is a product that is of particular interest to the niche market mentioned above. For one reason or another, niche products are not necessarily in high demand for the general public, but are highly sought after by a niche market.
This means that they are usually willing to pay a higher price for a unique product that was made with them in mind than for a product that was made for the masses.
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You see products and brands that target niche markets every day.
Some examples of niche products (or niche services) include yoga for expecting mothers, cook books for vegans, English classes for hip-hop enthusiasts, or wigs for cosplay fans.
Niche products don’t necessarily have to be as specific as the ones mentioned above. Some more basic examples of niches include organic and vegan food products, gluten-free items, stylish socks, imported snacks, or micro-brews.
There is an endless supply of niche markets out there filled with plenty of people around the globe who are interested in those products. Finding a product or website that targets a specific demographic takes some research, but if you find a gap in the market, the sales potential could be endless.
Niche market: Jellybean enthusiasts
You might ask yourself if targeting a niche might be too narrow of a business strategy. Wouldn’t it be better to go for a more mainstream idea with a bigger audience?
For starters, whatever products affect the masses is almost sure to be competitive and saturated. Therefore, you'll have to focus on pricing and marketing to get people to buy from your online shop.
The beauty of targeting a niche market is that they tend to be under-served and not very competitive.
In the past, opening up a brick-and-mortar for a specific niche might not have been the best idea, especially in smaller towns and cities.
Today, however, the world is your audience, so opening up a shop that targets a “small” community doesn’t have to mean that your sales will be limited. Selling internationally is now an option and if this niche truly is under-served, this can really work to your advantage.
Having less competition is obviously a good thing even if your sales will be more “limited” due to your focus on a niche market.
However, it’s also worth noting that targeting such consumers gets easier, too. Although you might be targeting a limited audience, if you do your (long tail) keyword research, you can find a nice mix of high volume search terms for low CPCs (cost-per-click).
The basic concept of long tail keywords is that multi-word search terms have low volumes of searches, yet they account for 70% of searches. Because of their longer word-length, they tend to be more specific and therefore lead to more conversions.
Considering that niche markets tend to be very loyal, you could benefit from this in multiple ways. For example, if you run a service that provides international snacks, this could easily work as a subscription-based business.
There are, of course, different strategies you can take towards figuring out which products to sell. For starters, you can decide on a niche market that you think is under-served.
Another strategy is to figure out which products you want to sell first based on keywords and search volumes, and then figuring out who this audience (or niche market) actually is.
This is where things can get tricky. Finding a niche market that hasn’t been tapped into yet isn’t easy. Identifying the audience you’ll want to target can make it easier to find the products they want to buy.
This could mean digging around the internet to find what is trending. It could mean talking to or surveying different demographics. It’s great if you can find something you’re passionate about, but be careful as that can make being objective difficult. After all, you’re running a business, not an ode to your favourite hobby.
However, if it is a hobby of yours, you’ll probably already have finger on the pulse of that community. This is a huge advantage and something you’ll want to do in any market you enter.
Discover these niche markets by figuring out what people are passionate about. Talk to friends, keep up with trending topics and pay attention to what is being sold in local shops as well.
People who are passionate are generally willing to spend money on products that are connected to those passions. Think about a hobby like golf. People are willing to spend thousands of dollars if those products help improve their skills.
Sometimes, in order to discover a niche market, it means finding a problem that doesn’t (yet) have a solution. In other words, try to find a problem that is common to a fairly large number of people (even if they don’t even know it’s a really a problem) and then figure out a solution for it.
A great example of a recent trend is smart travel accessories. For example, a smart backpack that contains all the extra bits for the modern traveller, including RFID blocking and a solar panel to charge your gadgets.
Once you’ve honed in on a niche market, you’ll want to figure out how their brains work.
Find forums and websites that are dedicated to this sub-culture (check out reddit as well and discover relevant "subreddits") and find out what expressions and slang words they use, what interests them, how much money they make, and any other details that really make them unique, just like you would when building a customer persona.
Figure out what problems they have. Dig in deep and try to capture the essence of who they are. This should be reflected in your website as well as the emails, videos and any other content you produce under your brand.
Naturally, you’ll want to find the products they’re looking for. Doing heavy research here is also very important. Not only do you want to research your customer, but don't forget to see what kind of competitors already exist in the market.
Chances are that other websites exist, but if their sites are amateurish, there might be an opening for you to come in as a professional and win their trust.
Alternatively, you can also choose which niche to enter based on a gap in the market. In other words, if you figure out which products have a decent demand, aren’t easy to find online (low competition), then you may have struck gold.
Naturally you’ll want to find (or better yet, create) products that speak to a specific niche demographic and are actually in demand. Research is key here, especially if you’re not a member of this niche yourself. Keyword research is how to accomplish this.
There are a lot of products and tools out there to help you do this, but you’ll probably want to start off with Google’s Keyword Planner to gauge the volume of certain searches.
However, there are other tools that can suggest similar keywords that are easier to rank for such as KWfinder.
This will not only give you insights into how often these keywords are actually searched for, but these are great tools for finding the right ones to insert throughout your website for SEO purposes.
KWFinder also shows you the top 10 search results for each keyword, which can be helpful in getting an overview on what the websites that rank highly are all about.
Alternatively, you can also try to figure out what is trending. Sure, keyword tools are always helpful in gauging how popular something is, at least in terms of search volume. However, websites like Trendhunter and SpringWise try to keep up with new products in all kinds of genres based on tradefairs.
Once you’ve figured out your idea, whether it was by choosing the niche market first or the product, it’s time to actually build your online shop.
If you decide to go the dropshipping route, this could make life easier by having less work to do while also not having to deal with storing your products in a warehouse. However, if you use the dropshipping strategy, you should be aware that delivery times are generally higher (especially if the products are coming from China).
Another thing to keep in mind is that other retailers might be selling the same exact products as you. All the more reason to make sure your shop (and your brand) really stands out from the crowd. Don’t forget, using unique product images and product descriptions help your products stand out as well.
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Remember the old cliché: content is king. Having fresh, relevant content on your site is a great way to rank higher in Google’s search results, so having a content marketing plan should be part of your plans. In other words, create a blog for your website. It’s simply an SEO thing. Just make sure you do it consistently.
Another tip for your blog: don’t write only about your products. Write for your target audience. Why “waste” your time with that? Well, it really comes down to two things.
As was mentioned above, it’s about SEO. If you have those special keywords that your niche market ends up typing into Google placed all over your website, there’s a good chance Google will place your website high in the search results.
Secondly, writing for your target audience is a way to build trust and credibility for your brand. One of your potential customers might find your blog interesting and visit it consistently because it is simply fun to read and relevant to their hobby. Before you know it, they are actually discovering products in your blogs.
Also, this is a great way to get visibility. Besides getting discovered on Google and other search engines, think about which one you would be more likely to share on Facebook: the homepage for a pretty cool shop or a really unique article about an interesting topic that not so many websites talk about?
As was mentioned before, it can help to create a customer persona of your ideal audience, especially before you start writing. What other interests and hobbies do they have? What special lingo do they use? What is looked up at in their world, and what does this niche look down on?
Just remember to write for them, not for your products. If you sell football items, then you might want to write blogs about why Messi’s new boots are so good for your ankles, even if you don’t sell that particular model. You can still link to a similar product or find a smooth way to talk about something that you do sell, like an ankle brace.
The main thing to remember is that if you think it might interesting to your audience and will drive traffic to your site, write about it!
Another great way to gain your audience’s trust is to have trust elements on your website and product pages. Displaying product reviews is an open form of social proof. This is true for e-commerce in general, but probably even more so when it comes to niche markets, who tend to be particularly picky and also close-knit.
Having a trustmark, or a seal of approval can build trust for your brand as well.
Well, that all depends. Your research should reveal if your product range is “too niche”. Doing keyword research will reveal how often certain keywords and phrases are searched.
If 10 people in the entire UK search a particular keyword per month, you’re probably too niche. However, if 1,000 search for a keyword, you might have found the right product. If this niche market has the potential to buy many unique products and accessories, then you’ve probably hit the jackpot.
You may want to create a niche website with a lot of niche sub-categories. For example, if you have a website selling accessories for dogs and dog lovers, you may want to categorise your website into different dog breeds (e.g. French bulldogs, terriers, golden retrievers, etc.). This makes sure that all dog lovers can find your site, but that these sub-niche markets (chihuahua lovers) can also find your products as well.
Niche: Pet clothes; sub-niche: dog/cat Christmas sweaters
It can be challenging to find a niche product to sell. Chances are that someone else is already doing it and doing it very well. However, with enough research and the right tools, you can find a niche market that is not being served properly. Just be sure to capture the spirit and voice of your audience, inform them with your blog, and soon enough you can establish yourself as the go-to shop for those niche products.
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