The Itch to Find a Niche
I am quite amazed by the number of unique, niche catalogs that have found their way to my mailbox or in-box lately—everything from catalogs for cigar smokers (i.e., Corona Cigar Co.) to American Historic Society’s catalog targeting coin collectors to a catalog selling Vidalia onions (yes, Bland Farms sells onions).
Then at last month’s annual Catalog Conference in Boston, I was introduced to several other niche players I hadn’t been aware of before. Wolferman’s catalog, for instance, sells a signature product—English muffins, which look so mouthwateringly delicious that I have to order some of these yummy treats. At a luncheon one day, I sat across from a woman from the Xandria Collection, which sells “adult entertainment” products. (And here’s an interesting note about that catalog’s customer base: 70 percent of its buyers are in committed relationships ... who would’ve known?) I heard a presentation about iGo, a catalog that started out selling batteries of all types but now bills itself as the source of everything you need for mobile computing.
Even the Big Guys Need a Niche
The more I thought about all of these niche catalogers and their unique products and specific target audiences, I realized that even the major players, the L.L. Beans of the cataloging world that you would never call niche catalogs, must have a clearly defined “niche” to survive and thrive.
Whether their niche is amazing service, a one-of-a-kind product selection or superb values, successful catalogs do in fact have a niche—a market positioning if you will.
Here are a few clear cases of successful niche marketing:
- When you think of Lands’ End, its niche—service and value—is clear. The copy throughout the catalogs backs up this positioning.
- The niche for last month’s cover story profile, The Sharper Image, is to offer the best in electronic gadgetry, as is evidenced by the wealth of high-tech products, many of which it designs and manufactures itself.