How to find your niche audience
Oct 04, 2016 - GROWTH
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Olivier Stapylton-Smith

Putting all your eggs in one basket was once considered a dangerous move for a business. But as consumer behaviours change, many business owners are discovering that targeting a niche audience can result in repeat purchasing and ongoing loyalty.


When you’re developing any product, one of the most important things to think about is who exactly is going to purchase what you’re selling and why. Although a great design is very important, working out exactly who will buy your product is vital for a successful campaign. 

The best way of deciding who you can sell to is to identify a niche in the market which is simply a specific segment of a market. This can be anything that people identify themselves by or with, whether it’s a profession, hobby, sport, or subculture such as Hipsters.

The best place to start is to think about what people identify with and what they will want to buy, use and wear. Identifying a niche should be one of the first things you do, even before coming up with a design. You need to know exactly who you’re going to sell to, why they’d buy it, and from there you can start thinking about a product that is designed just for them and their interests.

WHY DO YOU NEED TO FIND A NICHE AUDIENCE?

Finding a niche audience is a problem that some sellers run into again and again. Although it’s great to think that an eye-catching design means guaranteed profit, the reality can be a little different. Most of the time, the problem is rarely the design but the marketing - an ugly design can sell hundreds in a few days as long as you have a specific group of people that are willing to buy the product. Although we certainly wouldn’t suggest creating any designs that are less than perfect!

Customers mean sales and sales mean profits, so if you’re struggling with inspiration for a new design it always makes sense to start from the beginning with the audience(s) you’re targeting. Although it’s possible to sell merchandise solely on the quality of its design, unless you’ve got a brand behind you or the advertising budget to reach hundreds of thousands of people, it’s more than likely going to be an interesting challenge.

Although almost everyone owns t-shirts and protects their phone with a hard plastic case, only a few people are ever going to be interested enough to reach into their wallet and buy your design. You can dramatically increase your chance of seeing a high number of sales if you can come up with an average-yet-highly-targeted design that features something so different from what the High St can offer, or a design that has an almost emotional connection to a particular subject, rather than an awesome design that doesn’t stand out and connect with a particular group of people.

WHAT MAKES A GOOD NICHE?

For a design to be successful, customers need to identify with your design on a much more personal level. As exact as possible is great, as long as there are enough people that exist in your niche to be potential customers. For example, you could choose Spanish-born, female nurses who live in London and love salsa dancing and dogs and create an attractive design that appeals directly to them. When looking for new niches, the main question to ask is ‘why would someone buy a T-shirt?’...

There are a lot of different answers but broadly speaking...

  • They want to express who they are or want to share an opinion: clothes are a great way to convey beliefs, whether it’s a slogan or a political message.
  • They want to show what they love. People love to share their passions with the world and are proud to wear designs that showcase what they love, such as pottery and skydiving.

You might not find a niche that hasn’t already been targeted by various designs, but that shouldn’t affect your sales as very few niches are so crowded that you can’t find success.  On the other hand, remember that although very small and hard-to-sell-to niches may be untapped, there could be a reason for that… 

HOW TO TARGET A NICHE AUDIENCE

The next step is to think about the users themselves. Your ideal niche will include members who are passionate people who will engage - advertising costs are reduced if people are really passionate about a particular topic  as they will want to click on your advert and explore further. An audience that has disposable income and is willing to buy custom merchandise is certainly a huge are to investigate. For example, although students might be an audience that is passionate and engaged as well as being fairly easy to target on Facebook, they don’t necessarily have the finances and are therefore not usually an audience that converts into buyers.

Once you’ve found a niche that people feel strongly about and who seem likely to purchase your products, you need to assess the demand. The key questions are:

  • Are people buying t-shirts in that niche already?
  • Are people spending money in your niche?
  • How many people are within that niche?

If you apply all of these questions to the niche that you’ve chosen and the answers are positive, then you’re well on the way to a successful campaign! The next step is to start brainstorming ideas that will work for your new niche and make a start on your new designs. Remember, it’s best to pick a niche and stick with it. 

Final thoughts...

Once you’ve identified a promising niche, start testing out designs and growing your knowledge about the subject area, what works and what doesn’t. The more you understand the niche, the more successful you will be. Even better, build a fan page and start posting relevant content and as the page grows, you’ll have a captive audience in your chosen niche and you can advertise directly on the page.

Click here to read more on how to win with your niche pages.

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