In 2011, Matt Salzberg was a restless associate at a Silicon Valley investment firm. He and his friend Ilia Papas wanted to create a business and were intrigued by food.

“We both loved food,” Salzberg said. “We liked trying new ingredients, new recipes, new techniques, but we found it really inaccessible to cook at home. It was expensive, time-consuming, and difficult to find recipes that we trusted.”

The duo tried a few ideas before landing on the one that became Blue Apron: give people an easy way to make dinner using chef-recommended recipes and the fresh, precisely measured ingredients they’d need. By August 2012, the team was shipping recipes to early testers. Three years later, Blue Apron delivered millions of meals to monthly subscribers, the company valued at a whopping $2 billion!

Why Niche Markets Are More Than Skin Deep

Initially, some scoffed at the thought of paying restaurant prices for something you labored to cook at home.

But they overlooked Blue Apron’s unique advantage: appealing to a unique, target group of “foodies” who loved high-end meals but relished the opportunity to cook them at home. Blue Apron found a niche in the market that catapulted them to exponential growth and national exposure.

A niche market is a focused, targetable portion of a broader market in which specialized products or services can be sold. Establishing a niche market helps businesses gain competitive advantages. One way to succeed in connecting with your niche market is to examine your target customers’ psychographics.

Psycho WHAT? Finding the “Why” Behind the “Buy”

Psychographics refers to people’s qualitative characteristics.

While demographics analyze quantitative traits like age, gender, or income status, psychographics focuses on personality, opinions, attitudes, values, activities, and lifestyle. While demographics addresses the “who,” psychographics targets the “why.” What prompts people to purchase, and how do their values, beliefs, or worldviews drive these choices?

Here’s a car sales example. While BMW and Mercedes might sell a very similar product, each is constructed and marketed to the persona of two different niche markets. BMW often seeks to connect with customers who are fearless, young-minded, and successful. The company even sponsored some James Bond movies to “cast” BMW into a sexy, sophisticated starring role. On the other hand, Mercedes tends to target high-minded customers with an interest in wealth (specifically those with a more classic, conservative style) using taglines like “The Best – Or Nothing.”

Research shows that highly targeted marketing campaigns that speak directly to customer wants, needs, and beliefs can increase conversion rates by 40 percent. If this is true, the most important step in your next marketing campaign is to gather this data on your audience!

Sound challenging? It doesn’t have to be! Information on demographics is pretty easy to obtain. Here are a few areas you can probe for this information:

  • Client interviews
  • Customer surveys (included printed options or JotForm-style digital tools)
  • Market research firms
  • Feedback from your service team to provide (like key phrases, FAQs, and the language they hear customers use during daily interactions)
  • Facebook Analytics (set up a Business Manager account and install Facebook Pixel on your website to collect free data from the “Measure & Report” section)
  • Google Analytics (for a soft start, access the “demographics overview” by selecting “reporting” from the drop-down menu in the top left of the Analytics interface; then select “Demographics > Overview” under USER in the left navigation bar)

By segmenting your audience and tailoring content for specific groups, you can convert prospects into customers in a compelling, cost-effective way. 

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