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Selling niche products is a great strategy for 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! If you have an existing company, you may want to consider rebranding your business to focus your messaging to a very specific audience. If so, you'll want to keep reading.
Here's a table of contents for today's article:
The definition of a niche market is a highly targeted 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 from 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 fits their specific wants/needs.
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.
Customised puzzles are a type of niche product (Source: puzzleYOU)
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.
An example of a niche market: Jellybean enthusiasts!
(Source: Shutterstock/WAYHOME studio)
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, if a product is made for the masses, there is surely going to be a competitive retailer market, which is great for consumers but bad for businesses. Therefore, you'd 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 too 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.
An added bonus is that from a marketing perspective, 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).
If you're unfamiliar with the concept of long tail keywords, they are search terms that are longer than 2-3 words. Although multi-word search terms tend to have a lower search volume than shorter search terms, they still account for 70% of total searches.
Due to their longer word-length, they tend to be more specific, which is more informative in regards to user intent, especially when it comes to online shopping. Therefore, long tail keyword searches tend to lead to more conversions.
Source: Neil Patel
Since niche markets tend to be very specific by nature, it makes sense to focus on long tail keywords.
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 use when 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 figure 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. Surveys can be particularly useful if you already have a business. Sometimes, it makes sense to rethink who your target audience is as this can change over time for various reasons.
It’s great if you can find something you’re passionate about, but be careful as that can make it difficult to make objective business decisions. After all, you’re running a business.
However, if your business is related to a hobby of yours, you’ll probably already have finger on the pulse of that community, which can be a huge advantage because you'll already "speak the language" of your core audience.
If you're looking for a niche market that you're not very familiar with, you might discover them by figuring out what people are passionate about. Talk to friends, keep up with trending topics on social media and pay attention to what is being sold in local shops as well.
Enthusiasts are generally willing to spend good money on products that are connected to those passions. Think about a hobby like golf. Golfers will spend thousands of dollars on golf products and accessories if they think it will help them improve their skills (even if by only a fraction).
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 really a problem) and then figure out a solution for it.
A great example of a recent trend is smart travel accessories. Digital nomads are a niche audience, and products like a smart backpack that contains all the extra bits for the modern traveller, including RFID blocking and a solar panel to charge your gadgets.
Source: Shutterstock/Eric Isselee
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 explore relevant "subreddits").
Niche communities tend to speak their own language, so find out what expressions and slang words they use.
Learn what interests them, how much money they make, and what other characteristics they have in common.
For example, sneakerheads (aka shoe collectors) tend to also be into urban culture and fashion. Knowing things like this can help with your marketing efforts.
You should focus on learning about any other details that really make them unique, just like you would when building a customer persona.
As you learn about who they are, make sure to make note about the problems and challenges they have. Dig in deep and try to capture the essence of who they are when you create this persona or ideal customer.
All this information should be reflected in your website as well as 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 but 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, 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 of 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 the latest trade fairs.
Now that you have an audience and you have some products, it's time to start selling. In this section, we'll look at some of the best ways to get those unique shoppers through your checkout.
Your website is obviously an important element to the success of your online shop. With the information you've gathered about your niche market, you should be thoughtful in the design of your shop as well as the language you use.
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.
Use unique product images and product descriptions to help your products stand out.
There are a lot of ways you can build trust with a niche market. It can be tricky, but if you come across as authentic and proactively display your trustworthiness, people in the community will take you seriously.
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, part of it is SEO. If your blog/website has all those special keywords that your niche market uses, there’s a good chance Google will place your website high in the search results for those relevant search terms. With high rankings comes more traffic.
Even if those traffic-driving keywords aren't directly related to your products, as long as they are important to your audience, you'll want that traffic. You'll want to cleverly steer them from the article to your online shop, but getting shoppers onto your website is half the battle.
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'll actually be discovering products in your blogs, too.
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? I'd guess it's the second one in most cases.
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 to 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 a form of social proof. This is true for e-commerce in general, but probably even more so when it comes to niche markets, an audience that tends to be particularly picky and also close-knit. If a user believes the review was written by someone who "knows their stuff", their positive evaluation is worth its weight in gold.
In a similar fashion to product reviews, displaying service reviews and/or ratings can also build trust in your shop.
Having a trustmark, or a seal of approval can build trust for your brand as well. Seeing a buyer protection (or guarantee) can often be an instant trust-builder. The certification you'll display can often depend on your niche. If your audience is vegan, humanitarian, obsessed with security, or whatever, there are a number of relevant options out there.
The Trusted Shops Trustbadge is great trust-building tool for any type of business because it is there to serve consumer interests. It combines:
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 audience 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.
Example of niche: Pet clothes;
Example of sub-niche: Pet Christmas sweaters
(Source: Shutterstock/Tercer Ojo Photography)
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 other content), and soon enough you can establish yourself as the go-to shop for those niche products.
BONUS MATERIAL: Download our guide to Google Shopping optimisation and make sure your target audience can find your niche products! Just click below: