Market research

To niche or not to niche? And how to find yours to boost your customer base

- May 30, 2022 3 MIN READ
Graphic depicting one customer within a target range

Many businesses tend to market to the broadest possible audiences but this can, in fact, hamper your overall conversions – and ultimately, your business’ success. Marketing coach Katrina McCarter explains why finding – and marketing to – your niche can bring huge benefits for your sales and growth.

I’m often asked ‘what’s the biggest mistake I see in business?’. And the first thing that usually comes to mind doesn’t get a lot of press – it’s that people target too broadly. They don’t niche.

I’ll use mums as an example. They target all of them instead of Millennial mums or Gen X mums because they fear that if they niche, they’ll miss out. They couldn’t be more wrong. If you niche, you get laser-focused on who you want to attract to your business.

It means you’re more likely to speak your customers’ language, and connect and really engage with them.

Why nailing your niche is so important

Glen Carlson, founder of training organisation Dent, puts it like this: you need to understand your ideal customer like your best friend because by having knowledge around their problems, motivations, desires and needs, you’ll form a better relationship and create better solutions for them.

After working with hundreds of small businesses, I’ve seen niching delivers greater sales and loyal customers. The more focused the niche, the greater the impact.

One fantastic example is Prana Chai, a Melbourne artisan chai company in Melbourne with an extensive wholesale business and seven-figure turnover. They wanted to accelerate their direct sales in Australia and drive their online direct sales channel via a new segment niche targeting mums.

For eight months I embedded myself in the business and ran an independent survey of 150,000 mums. I found Prana Chai’s ideal mum for their online sales channel was likely to be older than those who drank it in cafes.

It was a critical finding and told us not to chase the ‘café mum’. Long story short, but by niching and focusing on women aged over 40, Prana Chai got a 500+ per cent increase in online sales.

The key action here was to identify the core consumer and niche through market research. I recommend every business does this because if you call in the experts, you create the right strategy for the right audience.

One word of caution: never niche across generations, for example 25-44 years. This covers Gen X and Millennials and they have very different communication preferences.

How to find your niche – or ideal customer

Here’s my blueprint for knowing your niche and understanding who you want to attract:

1. Create an avatar that represents your ideal customer. Give them a name and describe the lifestyle factors which attract them; why they come to your website, what they value, age, relationship status, if they have kids at home, household income, where they live, shopping and social media habits, where they go on holiday.

2. Find a photo that visually represents your ideal customer. Pin it up in your office so they’re front of mind when decisions are made.

3. Put aside time every day to talk to your (real) ideal customers to get greater insights into their life and track subtle differences in their habits and preferences. Social media is a great place to do this.

I promise, any investment you make in finding your niche – be it time or money, or both – will pay off.

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