The word “niche” evokes visions of some guy only collecting comic books that have monkeys in them, or a blogger who only writes about staplers, or an online store that only sells crackers made in Colorado. Artists and entrepreneurs seem to think the word “niche” is synonymous with small, or tiny. A more accurate definition would be highly targeted, focused, and clearly defined market. Although the definition tends to make artists and entrepreneurs gravitate toward something small, a niche audience is actually much bigger than what most people think.
I happen to know of a company that only has about 10% of the market share in its industry, and its products only cater toward a very specific niche audience: Apple. The audience for an Apple MacBook is not as broad as one may think. They cater toward people who love AND can afford well-designed computers. Not everyone loves Apple computers, and not everyone wants one. The fact that 90% of the market own non-Apple computers demonstrates the point.
There are two car companies who have sold possibly less than 100,000 units combined, and make up less than 1% of the market: Tesla and MINI Cooper. Just like Apple, they each have a very specific, premium audience. MINI Coopers are aimed toward affluent hipsters, yuppies, and GenY. The Tesla electric cars have an even smaller audience: affluent environmentalists. Their combined revenue is close to $100 million, tiny compared to the rest of the industry.
Crocs, Mont Blanc, Fast Company Magazine, The Snuggie, and even Seth Godin himself all have a niche audience. But their audience by no means is small. The trick isn’t to come up with a niche product, or a niche idea. The trick is to know your audience. Don’t come up with a gimmicky audience – like monkey comic book collectors – and hope that it exists. Instead of guessing what your audience might be, define it, and then own it. Focus on meeting the needs of your audience, and your audience will follow. Be the leader in that niche, and make it grow.