Profile Your Niche Target Customer

Published on:

August 15, 2012

Profile your niche target customer

Why you should profile your niche target customer and get better results from your marketing

Profiling your niche target customer can pay dividends when it comes to planning your marketing. The temptation can be to rush right in; to ignore the marketing planning steps necessary for any effective marketing plan. Strategic marketing planning is about deciding what to do, when – right? However, taking a little more time to plan and profile your niche target customer and identify the marketing planning steps that you need to take to reach them can save you time, money and really boost the results you see from your marketing efforts.

By stepping back and spending time on business segmentation and profiling your targeted niche market you can avoid wasting your time and effort trying to scoop up as many customers as possible, resulting in scooping up none as so eloquently described by James Harkin in his book ‘Niche’ published by Abacus, 2011.

What is your niche market?

But what is target market segmentation?

Before you can target your niche market you need to define your market segment. Who are you trying to target? It’s only by doing this that you can create a target market strategy. Most companies have an idea of their target market. It’s usually something like this example of market differentiation for a teenager’s clothes store:

Example A: Teenage boys – 12 – 17 years, Socio –economic groups B, C1 and C2
When you define your target niche more thoroughly you would end up with a clearer view of the best way to reach out to your target market.

Example B: Teenage boys aged 15-17, focus on individuality, rebellion from childhood and exploring independence. Interested in rock music and online gaming. Lives with parents in C1 households with a likely expendable income from a part time job of about £60 per month and parents who subsidise clothing costs.

So, what’s the difference?

The extra depth in detail enables you to improve the targeting of your product or service to the market segment that your products and price points are most likely to resonate with, increasing your chances of sales. You know whether an average pricing of £50 would be too high, for example, or whether you need to be advertising in publications read by 16 year old boys or 40 year old homeowners with children.

How the movie industry leverage niche segmentation

Another way of looking at it is when you go to the cinema you will usually watch a film that you have an interest in. Whether it is The Lego Movie because you have a Lego-mad son, or whether you go to see Dawn of the Planet of the Apes because you loved the Planet of the Apes, the fact that you are sitting there, in that room, at that time, ready to part with good money to see that type of movie, will give movie-makers and marketers a great indication of other movies you might be interested in…and what type of trailer might work for you.

For example, if research shows that most people that go to watch The Lego Movie are with their children, showing a trailer for horror movie ‘28 Weeks Later’ would miss the target audience completely (and upset a lot of families in the process) – a crude example, and thankfully due to broadcasting regulations not likely to happen.

Strategically targeting your niche market can be more useful than that. It can boost brand loyalty among customers too. When Titanic was tested it was found that teenage girls loved the film more than anyone else in the test panel. The trailer for the movie was created to specifically target teenage girls. Packed with lots of Leonardo close-ups, a focus on the romance between Rose and Jack the trailer was primed especially for teenage girls. The result, getting the right people through the door didn’t just mean one viewing per customer. It meant two. Many of those teenage girls who went to see the film on the back of the trailer loved it so much that they had to go back again!

Of course, the trailer could have focused on the historical interest of socio-economic aspects of the first class and lower class interactions (or lack of), or even the marital relationship and a woman’s place in society in 1912 but the resulting demographic pull would have altered to women, probably, 45+ that have an interest in history. They would not have enjoyed the movie as much, would have told fewer people about it and most certainly wouldn’t have made it to a second viewing. So, by identifying and targeting your niche market successfully, you are likely to improve customer satisfaction, boost word of mouth, raise levels of return custom and also reach more people that are likely to be interested in your product or service all through being targeted with your marketing communications.

Could strategically targeting a niche market have saved 29,000 jobs?

A prime example of the risk of generalising to please everyone can be seen in the legendary Woolworths as described here in an article written before Woollies shut its doors for good. An international brand, over 100 years of history, loved by everyone. It still wasn’t enough to avoid the miserable demise of this high street giant. But what caused their demise? Who did Woolworths want to target? Children wanting the pocket money sweets? Mothers looking for a new kettle or a set of baby grows? Dad’s on a DIY mission, teens looking for the newest computer fad, popsters looking to update their collection…I could go on.
Are you seeing the problem?

How targeting your niche can save your bacon

Another comparison we can draw is Marks & Spencer, also affected by the decline of the high street. Similar kind of issue: Who were their target customers? Mums, Dads, Grandparents, Teens, Children, Christmas shoppers? It seems their business advertising ideas just weren’t enough with things looking bad at the end of the nineties as the share price of the nation’s favourite department store tumbled. Between October and December 2008 the share price dropped from 664p per share to 412p per share.

Marks & Spencer fought back. A change of leadership with the appointment (complete with Golden Hello) of Vandevelde, a fresh new look, and most interestingly business segmentation in the form of the launch of the Autograph range which was introduced in Summer 2000 and subsequently the Per Una range in 2001 which has since been credited with M&S’s revival. These ranges demonstrate a clearer idea of target audience and cleverly enable the UK-born giant to tap into segments of the niche market with the right price point, products and message to build brand loyalty to a very specific target consumer.

Another way that Marks & Spencer have targeted a market niche is through the development of M &S Food stores. In recent years these have cropped up in out-of-town retail areas and also, more interestingly at motorway service stations. Targeting of the niche market is perfect. Selling premium own-brand, quality food to drivers who are likely to be travelling a long distance, may be hungry on the road, or want to prepare a quick, healthy and delicious meal without too much hassle when they get home. The problem is that M & S’s approach to food, in conjunction with the unmistakable and original (at the time) adverts, have meant that too often when we think M and S, we think food, not clothes.

Whilst it’s fair to say that Marks and Spencer are not out of the woods yet they have continued to survive for another fifteen years so maybe strategic business segmentation and paying particular attention to the niche consumer groups is paying off. Despite being affected by recent tough times the British store seems to be working its way back into the hearts of the public. The big question is whether Marks and Spencer make niche marketing work en-masse?

Whether niche marketing works en-masse for Marks and Spencer or not, the experiences of big brands such as GAP, Starbucks and Homebase who have stopped pleasing the masses and concentrated on their target market, proves that strategically focusing on your niche can bring your business more; more customers, more exposure through word of mouth, more repeat business, more brand loyalty and more longevity.

The segmentation of customers is not something that is specific to retail or even to business to consumer marketing. It is equally applicable to business to business marketing and is made more accessible to small businesses through digital marketing.

About Paul Freudenberg

Paul Freudenberg is a business productivity coach and consultant with a focus on operational excellence delivering improved profitability and business performance, and Founder of Awardaroo in 2005. Paul has set the mission of Awardaroo to help raise UK Business Productivity from one of the lowest in the G7 to one of the highest by 2030. Connect on LinkedIn

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