Verve Marketing and Design

Niche Marketing: Slightly Easier than Finding a Needle in a Haystack

I love Chinese food – the smell, taste and texture – and I am a pro with chopsticks! Pretty impressive for someone who is not of Asian descent, huh? And since I frequent Chinatown, I must know how the Asian market consumes media, right? It sounds absurd, but when businesses don’t pay attention to their target consumer, they often wind up speaking to the general market instead of their niche audience. With today’s savvy consumer living in a world that is saturated with advertisements, mass marketing is just not going to cut it. Niche marketing is the new advertising frontier (trust me you’re not in Kansas anymore!).

It is imperative in today’s multi-cultural world to know how to identify your ideal client. It goes beyond age and house hold income – it’s understanding detailed demographics, psychographics and purchase behaviors. It’s identifying your potential clients and being able to speak to them in a language in which they identify. It’s understanding as much as you can about your target audience from their marital status to their house hold income to their philanthropic affiliations and hobbies. It’s truly getting a solid picture of the person (with disposable income) that you want in your store or on your website purchasing your product or service.

This is where you have to do some homework. You need to be able to speak to your ideal client, even if you’re not bi-lingual. To start, know their age, marital status, zip code, number of children, type of car, political party, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, dining habits, highest educational degree completed, travel preferences and house hold income. Gather as much data as possible as often as you can in order to identify your ideal prospect, understand their habits and position your brand ideally – you want your product or service to be the most appealing to your target audience.

Okay, so information over load, right? Let me break it down for you in the most basic, animalistic sense: dating. Think about this for instance, when someone lists a personal ad, they typically don’t do the following: “Male seeking Female.” Let’s assume our male isn’t that desperate and wants to list specific criteria in order to identify a potential mate with similar interests. Let’s elaborate on our listing: “White, athletic, professional, native Philadelphian male in his 30’s seeks attractive, fit female in her late 20’s or early 30’s living in Philadelphia who enjoys dining, travel, dancing, professional sports, reading and music.” Our “male” is likely to receive many more qualified responses with a detailed listing vs. a vague ad appealing to all single ladies in his area. The same principle applies to “attracting” your ideal customer.

Let’s time travel for a minute. Fifty years ago when the white males of Madison Avenue ruled the advertising world (anyone see the show Madmen recently?), the “mass market” catered to one ethnicity. In today’s non-traditional market, it is imperative to position your brand properly in order to reach your niche market within the general sector. For example, close to 50% of the population in today’s metropolitan markets are “ethnic.” And, it’s not simply African American or Hispanic. We’ve come a long way in the past 50 years – the 2000 census was the first to allow individuals to self-identify themselves as multicultural. So, it’s understanding if your consumer is African American and of Caribbean or Black Hispanic descent or Hispanic and of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban or South/Central American descent. If you are trying to reach one niche ethnic market, you better understand their preferences – create a message that is relevant to them. The multi-cultural information that is now available opens a whole new opportunity to extract data about your metropolis in order to understand the buying patterns, religions, age, and influences of a specific ethnic audience.

Let’s face it: people often buy when they feel connected to a brand or a company. Our grandparents frequented the corner, “mom & pop” store because they knew and trusted Mr. and Mrs. Nicola (yes, my grandparents were Greek). Really, not much has changed. If your customer identifies with your brand, positioning and philanthropic ideals, they will likely be a loyal customer. If you can take it one step further and understand everything about them (it’s okay to be a voyeur), you are one step closer to reaching, obtaining and retaining that customer.

So, after you have answered a plethora of questions about your ideal customer and you understand them like the back of your hand, make sure you keep your focus, learn to speak their language and continue to do your homework! Niche marketing must be incorporated into your planning – it will save you money, help you target effectively and facilitate creating the right message for the right audience in the right medium. Go niche or go home! Well it’s about lunchtime and I hear General Tso calling my name – funny, I don’t speak Chinese…

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