Why a Niche is Important
Your product occupies a niche when its unique features and image are properly positioned within the “ecosystem” of your market relative to customer needs and competition. Think of the majestic giraffe. With their long necks, giraffes fill an obvious niche for munching leaves from the tall trees in Africa. But, on a plain of only low shrubs, the giraffe’s long neck would be unique—but an obstacle to eating.
Closer to home, there is an industrial “ecosystem” that supports a niche glove product from a company called HexArmor. HexArmor sells only cut-resistant safety gloves made of patented puncture-proof textiles. They fill a niche for hand protection among industrial metal, glass and mill workers around the world.
Like the giraffe and HexArmor gloves,Luxeire innerwear products fill their own niche in the “ecosystem” of women’s fine apparel. We discovered having a niche is so important in being successful because when you narrow your market to a smaller group you are better able to fully understanding the needs and wants of this group. This will make it easier to be strategic about how you provide products and services to offer to keep your customers in your pipeline.
Know Your Market
Once you have defined your target customer, you need to know who your current and potential competitors are. Assess your strengths and weaknesses and those of your competitors. Define your market, what your customers want, and what benefits they can expect. Identify key success factors and product features—rank them by importance to the customer. Then compare yourself to the competition on each factor.
Customer preferences usually involve multidimensional trade-offs—not simply price vs. quality. Maintaining your niche position requires that you understand every aspect of your customers’ product buying decision. There are many excellent and free online resources that provide guidelines for competitor and “ecosystem” analysis. An example template provided below was borrowed from the online Business Plan for a Startup Business by Score.org.
Establish Your Niche
Many new products spring from the perfect storm of vision, entrepreneurial spirit and unmet customer need. For a start-up company, finding the right niche is the surest path to success. However, even when an idea seems to reflect cutting edge innovation, being cognizant of your “ecosystem” is important in charting a successful business strategy.
Once you understand how you stack up in the market relative to your competition and customers, you can carve out your niche in your own “ecosystem”. Then, it is time to get the word out to your target customers. They have a problem. You have the solution—and soon they will just have to buy it.
Scratchy wool, deodorant stains, discoloration of whites, overly sheer tops and excessive dry cleaning bills—these are some common troubles with fine clothing. For years, I searched for a feather-weight, elegant, yet inconspicuous base layer for my own comfort and my clothing’s protection. I tried many brands and styles. Shapewear was constricting, too hot, and would often roll up leaving behind a bulge of flesh. Silk underwear was soft, but hot; added unnecessary bulk, and did not hold up well to frequent washing. Cuddle Duds made me feel like I had borrowed my grandma’s pajamas to wear beneath my clothes for the day.
Where was the perfect, second-skin turtle neck? Where was the perfect v-neck to wear discreetly beneath my button downs, v-neck tops and wrap dresses? Where was the generous scoop neck that was broad enough to wear under most crew and boat necklines without being seen? The lack of perfect innerwear product offerings on the market led me to create Luxeire, a luxurious, light-as-air daily innerwear.
Know Your Niche Product? Make Your First Sample
We sat down with industry experts and top apparel manufacturers to create this course that walks you through the sample-making process from the first product sketch to your final production sample and all the details in between.
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