What Is a Micro Niche … and Do You Need One?
A micro niche is a business offering that’s highly specific. You may also encounter the term sub-niche to describe these laser-focused products or services. Micro niches drill down from niches, which are already segmented out from a larger market.
Here are a few quick examples to clarify the difference between a market, a niche, and a micro niche:
- Market, outdoor gear; Niche, camping supplies; Micro Niche, high-end mountaineering tents
- Market, tech; Niche, social media platforms; Micro Niche, social platforms targeted to specific interests, such as Ravelry for knitters
- Market, beauty supplies; Niche, cosmetics; Micro Niche, organic vegan cosmetics
Micro niches generally have more adjectives attached (not just ‘food truck,’ but ‘artisan grilled cheese truck featuring locally sourced cheese and bread’) and have a highly specific audience in mind (people who love grilled cheese with fancy additions).
Would your business benefit from a micro niche?
Among the greatest benefits of micro niches is that they pre-qualify customers and clients early in the marketing funnel. People who are looking for outdoor gear may be looking for anything from hiking boots to fly-fishing rods to harnesses for mountain climbing. But people searching specifically for camping supplies can have very different ‘wants’ as well. They may prioritize:
- Ease of use
- Eco-friendly production
- Better, best glamping quality
- Mountain-ready ruggedness
Often there will be an overlap of preferred qualities. But if your niche is producing and selling high-quality mountaineering tents, you won’t have to worry about capturing the attention of frugal families or people who want a luxurious camping experience.
The other benefits of a micro niche branch off from there. They include:
- A passionate customer community. People interested in high-quality tents are often interested in clear topic areas related to your offering. This makes it easier to create a content strategy for organic traffic; there’s less guessing what will appeal to your customers. People who want exceptional quality tents for hiking are knowledgeable already. They would likely be interested in a blog or podcast offering specific, expert, or off-the-beaten path advice and recommendations.
- Less competition. In broad markets and even niches, gaining visibility and brand awareness can be a challenge. In a micro niche, it’s easier to earn attention and differentiate yourself because you have fewer competitors. You still have to specify your unique value in the space and clarify that among your discerning audience.
- Brand loyalty. While this isn’t a given and requires meeting the demands of your audience, a sub-niche can foster long-term interest. That’s because micro niches are built on expertise, passion, and customization. It’s more challenging to bring a personal touch to broad markets
Companies can start up with a single micro niche. For example, Bite offers sustainable toothpaste tablets called ‘bits,’ mouthwash bits, floss, and toothbrushes through a subscription plan. Their focus is zero-waste, plastic-free, vegan, and cruelty-free production.
Drybar is another micro niche company that carved a customer base from the hair salon industry. The ‘want’ they leveraged was people interested in a ‘just-from-the-salon’ look between full haircuts and coloring.
Alternatively, companies can add a micro niche after establishing their brand in a larger niche market. The mattress company, Casper, added dog beds to their niche offering. Mattresses, for most of us, are large and infrequent purchases. Although dog beds have a far smaller price point, dog owners are likely to replace them more often. Offering dog beds is also a way to introduce a new audience to the overall Casper brand and the quality of its craftsmanship.
How to discover the best micro niche(s) for your business
1. Identify your strengths.
To discover a micro niche worth developing, start by looking at your strengths — either as an individual, a team, or a company. You’re more likely to find sustainable success in areas that excite you and your team.
Consider a business offering employee recruitment support to companies. Perhaps their team excels when recruiting executives or helping mid-career changers climb the ladder? This could spark a micro niche B2B offering, such as mid-level leadership development services or executive compensation consulting.
2. Focus on the problem.
What issues need solving in your industry or your life? Think about the times you’ve thought “If only we had _____ ” to help with a common problem in day-to-day life, at work, or with a recreational activity. Fill in that blank for a promising micro-niche business idea. Problems you face are likely issues for others as well. Brainstorm different problems and creative solutions, and see which one gets you and trusted peers the most excited.
3. Do your micro-niche market research.
You want to make sure your micro niche has a customer base. Here are some areas on which to focus your research:
- Informal and formal market research. Talk with friends and family about consumer ideas, or reach out to industry peers about business services needs. If you have the budget, send out email or social media surveys about the topic to gauge interest.
- Google Trends. This tool can help you discover micro niches within larger niches, and the overall interest in your micro niche. Search various terms related to your sub-niche and then explore the related topics and queries. You can also find out regional variations in interest.
- Social media and industry organizations. Explore hashtags on social media related to your sub-niche or industry. Also check out associations, professional groups, and organizations within your target industry. What are they discussing or excited about? Do you notice an emerging area of expertise? Do you notice a missing link in the discussions that might be an opportunity?
For example, a search for ‘mountain tent’ reveals strong (and unsurprising) regional interest in Colorado and Idaho. It also shares that ‘hyperlite mountain gear’ is a related topic, which can guide your product development and future marketing content.
4. Check out the competition.
It’s possible you’ll have a eureka moment and land on an untapped idea. But, more often, you’ll find your skills and interests lead you to micro niches with existing businesses. Now, you’ll have to toggle back to research and brainstorming mode. Here’s what you’ll need to figure out:
- Is the market big enough for the two, four, or 15 of you?
- How can you differentiate yourself from the competition? With white-glove service? With a lower or higher price point?
- Where are they falling short?
- How can you do better?
5. Test the waters.
You don’t have to dive into the deep end immediately. It’s smart to test the waters first with a single product offering. The apparel company Bombas launched in 2013 with a single product: comfortable performance socks. It has expanded to other items of clothing, but socks remain at the center of the brand.
Another way to test your idea is with a landing page, which is a simple process with drag-and-drop tools like HubSpot’s Landing Page Builder. Once you have a personalized landing page, begin advertising your product or service with paid search and social media ads. Your proof-of-concept is in the pudding — if the pudding were steady traffic, completed email forms, inbound sales calls, and product pre-orders.
On the landing page, and in your ads, use keywords that clearly define your offering. This way you draw people with authentic interest or buying intent in your micro niche.
6. Trust your instincts.
If you dream up a product or service idea that hasn’t been done before, or hasn’t been done particularly well, in your opinion, consider trusting your gut.
- The company Untuckit was built on the simple premise that men wanted button-front shirts that looked neat untucked, and they were hard to find.
- The e-commerce store Lefty’s sells common kitchen, gardening, school, and work tools designed specifically for people who are left handed.
- Olive & June is a nail polish company that sells kits that make home manicures easy and fun. Their kits come with a holder for your phone, so you can watch a video while your polish dries.
These micro-niche companies often have one thing in common: When they hit the market, people often wonder how the products or services weren’t available before. Find your micro niche, and follow these steps to bring your business to life.