Niche is a great word. It’s a shallow recess within a wall, used as a display tool for a really nifty object, it’s a cranny, and it’s a nook. It can be the ecological role of an organism in a community, and it’s a habitat that supplies the factors that are necessary for the existence of an organism or a species. The original definitions of the word had absolutely nothing to do with the business world, but, like the Internet, just because something originates as one thing it doesn’t mean that it cannot turn into something completely different through alternative usages. Niche, in more recent history, has come to also be used to describe either a job or activity that is suitable for someone or to describe the situation by which a business’s products or services are able to succeed by being sold to a particular group or type of people.
As fascinating as the evolution of a word can be, we’re not here for an etymology lesson. This lovely side lesson in definitions does have a purpose.
In the Interest of Finding Your Market
The thing is, no matter how cool you may think your product is, the fact of the matter is that you may have trouble finding someone else who thinks that it’s a cool concept as well. You know that your idea is a good one, but you’re not seeing your business go anywhere. Does this mean that you have failed? No! What this means is that you just haven’t found your niche yet. It’s possible that you just need more advertising than you’re currently using, that you haven’t found the right way to convey what it is your product does in a manner that appeals to the public at large, or that you’re looking in the wrong target market.
No Matter How Absurd the Idea May Be
If nothing else, the Internet has shown us that products that one might think are absolutely ridiculous can sell, and can become huge successes, while others that are quite useful may not do so well because of a poor choice in marketing; still others are fantastic ideas, but haven’t really taken off due to a lack of exposure.
Let’s take a look at a few examples (please note that we’re not affiliated with any of these companies or products, they’re just being used for example purposes!)
A Ridiculous Idea That’s Doing Well: Poopsenders.com – The url says it all. This site was created solely for the purpose of sending people poo through the mail. For this month the specials are “cow dung, elephant crap, gorilla poop” and a special three types of poop for one combo pack. Not only is this just plain silly, but you have to think about the logistics of the operation. Someone sat down and thought about how great it would be to send poo to people, determined the types they wanted to send, and created a whole… ahem… production process, getting them straight from the animals, so to speak, to the door of the person its being shipped to. In spite of the ethical and moral issues associated with this type of business, the mind boggling process of actually creating such a business, and the sheer ridiculousness of the idea, the company is doing fantastically well. Turns out, humans love shipping poo to people; the site’s been around since 2008 and shows no signs of slowing down.
Or How Reasonable The Idea May Be
A Useful Product That Failed Due to Poor Marketing: Bic Cristal for Her – Yes, Bic goofed big time. As one Forbes writer states, Bic made “lady-pens.” The reviews on Amazon tell it all. The product has become a huge joke. The sad thing is, it didn’t need to be. The pens are just like every other Bic pen in existence – their only difference? The fact that they’re in pretty colors. The ink isn’t – it’s still basic black, it’s just the outer clear tube that Bic changed. For those of us who still use pens (yes, I know we seem to be a dying breed), there’s nothing wrong with a pretty pen. I happen to grab them by the ton, different roller ball thicknesses, different kinds of ink, different casings. I like the variety when taking the time to write by hand. If Bic had just called them “Bic Cristal” the company would have been fine, had a new product, and people like me would have happily added to their pen collection, but alas, that “For Her” served to imply a whole host of sexist connotations (really, check out the reviews – they’re hilarious), and caused Bic to appear as though they had real mud in their eye.
A Great Product With Limited Exposure: Loot Crate – They send a grab box of goodies to your house each month. These boxes are filled with all things Geeky. March’s box was Titanfall themed (for you Xbox lovers out there), and we have no clue yet as to what April may bring. It’s a product filled with goodies for those who like mail and goodies, it’s a surprise, and it’s geeky happiness in a box, working to target a variety of different markets. They’re not big yet, but if they advertise more they will be!
Anyone with any business model can become successful online; that’s one of the beauties of the Internet. Chances are that if you like the concept as a good idea for a product or service, someone else will too and you shouldn’t give up just because you’re not an overnight success. Instead, take a careful look at how you are marketing your product (Don’t be like Bic!), whom the product is being marketed for, whether or not there is enough exposure for your product or service, and whether or not you can punch it up a notch by simply changing the wording. Three years ago I never would have bought clothes online for a tortoise; in six weeks the household tortoise will have a stegosaurus costume. It just goes to show you that the Internet is a wonderful and mysterious place where anyone may find their niche!