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Finding, Developing and Prospering From Niche Markets

(December 2006) posted on Fri Jan 05, 2007

Discover tips and techniques that can help you profit from untapped niche markets.

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By Mark A. Coudray

Your next mission, once you're armed with specific information about the niche, is to identify your local market. How many businesses in your area are focused on bird watching or related activities? Do you have a local chapter of the Audubon Society? What conservation groups are in town? Are there any events or festivals centered around your interest area? How about school clubs? Now you're doing homework on a local level.

The more information you gather, the better off you are. Not every market will pass muster. You're after two key attributes. One is the size of the market. It has to be big enough to support shirt sales. Secondly, buyers must be passionate. The more passionate, the smaller the market can be. The more emotionally connected the buyers are to the cause or interest, the more they will pay for the right design. Make some phone calls to key individuals in the community. Find out what's important to them and what the issues are. If you can find a cause, you have sales.

Designing for the niche
The next step is to design garment graphics that fit the niche market you've defined and validated. Most niches are small; therefore, your local opportunity for quantity sales is limited. The larger the market, the more competition. Your objective is to fly below the radar and own the niches in which you choose to work. Typical sales will be in the 72-288 range. To expand your opportunities, you'll need to create images that you can use for the same purpose in multiple regional markets. Leverage your efforts through syndication.

Create specific graphics with the intent to reuse them (Figure 1). If you know the Western migration of the Coastal Snowy Plover occurs between September and November and extends from Washington's Puget Sound to Baja, California (I just made all this up!), you can pretty well define where you can sell goods oriented toward this event—and for how long. This allows you to make an annual, limited edition, commemorative shirt (Figure 2). If you make it available for only two months of the year and personalize it for the coastal towns with wetlands, lagoons, back bays, and refuges along the West Coast, then you're not very likely to run into any competition.


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