KANSAS CITY – Niche marketing can be an effective strategy for targeting a specific market segment or consumer demographic with high potential to connect with a product or brand. Many companies effectively use niche strategies in their overall marketing campaigns. It is an especially useful tool for smaller companies with limited budgets and products or services that are targeted toward a certain segment of the population.
Niche marketing is not for every brand. While large companies often use such strategies, it is difficult for them to reposition well-known core products. Consumers have difficulty seeing them as something else.
“Niche consumers tend to gravitate to products that are created as ‘natural’ and ‘performance based,’” said Kara Nielsen, trend market analyst for Packaged Facts. “There is an ‘authenticity gap’ when brands or companies try to replicate the success of another original product that offers new enticements. Not every brand can recreate the magic and gain customers if it just copies the success of some other product that successfully found a niche.”
For example, in the breakfast biscuit category, belVita, produced by Mondelez International, Inc., was positioned as a European, fiber-rich healthy breakfast alternative. It also met demand for increased snacking, on-the-go portability and portion control.
“Other brands tried to capitalize on these newly popular characteristics, and now there’s every kind of breakfast biscuit to meet this same niche market,” Ms. Nielsen said. “While copycat products won’t necessarily attract true niche consumers, they can bring brand-loyal users into a niche experience.”
Food manufacturers must identify a target niche and then market their product’s features to satisfy the specific need while considering price, production, quality and customer demographics.
“The most important thing is to understand who your target is,” said Cara Figgins, vice-president of Partners, A Tasteful Choice Co. “Once you know that, then you can focus on marketing different features and benefits of the product or change the packaging or other characteristics to better position it.”
Looking for authenticity
Smaller companies can compete with the larger ones because they have more product development flexibility and usually deploy tech-savvy marketing campaigns to introduce products, according to Innova Market Insights’ 2016 Top 10 Trends. Small companies tend to do one thing, but they do it well, and this appeals to the millennial need for authenticity.
“Millennials tend to buy products from smaller entrepreneurs or start-ups they feel are more authentic,” Ms. Nielsen said. “These entrepreneurs usually create products starting with a vision to fulfill a personal need, tell a story, improve on current products or meet dietary needs and issues, like allergy or gluten-free.”
Fancypants Baking Co. focuses on two niche markets, namely allergen-aware consumers and those looking for an authentic, better-for-you cookie.
“I believe that our authenticity is something that resonates well with the millennial demographic,” said Steven Evancho, director of marketing for the Boston-based company. “It’s hard to find food manufacturers whose owners still care so much about their products that they personally oversee quality control and are willing spend a Friday night at home doing recipe development with their kids.”