Ecomm Challenge Day 3 — Finding a niche market

Photo by Roman Kraft

I’m really looking forward to this task, and I will refer back to my introductory article at the beginning of this publication. So far, I have already defined a couple of trends in my office (water bottles, coffee tech, and tech bags), as well as some other products I’d like to investigate. In this article I will explore them a bit more and start to look at a value proposition around them.

Why are niches important?

I think the main reason for me to start with a niche is the pressure of time. I do not have the time to come up with a proposition that fulfils a mass market straight away. As discussed in my intro article, my experience has been that different types of people favour very different online retailers depending on their interests. I think there are some other key reasons that I think focusing on a niche makes sense:

  1. It is easier to research and discover useful products.
  2. It becomes easier to understand the motivations of a smaller distinct group of people.
  3. It makes it clearer whether you are adding value to their passions and servicing the market in the right way.
  4. If I can create a valuable service, it is more likely that my reputation will grow.

Which niche should I focus on?

Again going back to my initial article I should focus on what I know, as I have a passion for these things and have a broad understanding of how they work and why they appeal to me. The niches I am considering are:

Outdoor Products — I love getting out of the city and enjoying the countryside. Whether that is a short walk or an all day hike, there are certain things that are useful to have with you. Also, its great to eat outdoors on a simple fire or with a new piece of cooking tech. My personal view is that if more people spent time enjoying the outdoors, they would find over time that they would have a new found respect for nature and potentially change some of their behaviours.

Cycling — I’m a keen cyclist, but also know the market is well served by huge online retailers like Wiggle who recently acquired Chain Reaction Cycles. I also know that while they serve the general market very well, there are many tribes of different types of cyclists, who all behave and look very different. Ultimately the more people that cycle of any cycling tribe the better in my view as it reduces are use of cars which are heavily polluting our inner cities.

Drink Culture — You would have to be very unobservant not to notice the culture that has built up around coffee drinking over the last couple of years. More recently I have also noticed that people who are into exercise and yoga have also started investing in water bottles. This is an important consumer trend as it represents the type of ethical product that I have been looking for. If the mass market adopts this trend it has the potential to reduce the 1 million plastic bottles that bought every minute globally.

Buy Better, but Buy Less — I like many of my friends have reached a very enviable point in life where we can now afford the things that we really like. However, we are very aware that we want to buy things that are well-designed, almost timeless, that will last. We still consume, but in a much more considered, and hopefully sustainable.

What am I not going to focus on?

There are many other things that I could have focused on, but I gave myself some rules before starting this:

  1. No electronics products (I don’t have the resources to replace if they break)
  2. No large/heavy products (I can’t afford the shipping)
  3. No free products for influencers (I can’t afford to give them away)
  4. No food products (They could potentially go off or poison someone)
  5. No software, learning or download products (They generally have a bad reputation and poor marketing)
  6. No cosmetics (I can’t vouch for their provenance)

These rules meant I excluded many other things I could have focused on photography, health foods and supplements, music, film. But I think that employing some restrictions has been a useful process to go through.

What next?

Now that I have my defined niches, I need to validate which ones look the most chance for success, see whether there are easily reachable communities around them, and start selecting products.

If you want to read earlier articles in this publication, you can subscribe to The Ecomm Challenge here.

Contact

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