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Finding, Developing and Prospering From Niche Markets

(December 2006) posted on Fri Jan 05, 2007

Discover tips and techniques that can help you profit from untapped niche markets.

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By Mark A. Coudray

It's no secret that the printed-apparel market is fiercely competitive. Screen printers constantly complain about price-driven competition and the almost unending recurrence of new start-ups. Customer loyalty seems more of an oxymoron than a reality. Add to this the commodity perception of the "silkscreen T-shirt printer" and you have a recipe for low profit margin and increasing frustration. Sooner or later, all serious screen printers faced with these issues will search for a niche market where they can differentiate themselves and increase their profit potential.

What exactly are niche markets? How are they discovered and developed? Like so many business buzzwords, niche marketing is thrown around casually, almost as if these markets were laying around just waiting to be picked up. This may be the case in some instances, but the highly competitive nature of our industry makes such a scenario highly unlikely. Still, plenty of profitable niches in garment screen printing exist. You just have to know what to look for before you can find it. Like any hunting expedition, you have to identify your target.

What is a niche?
A niche is a specialized, narrow, and focused segment of the general market with specific interests. Mass markets, on the other hand, are general markets characterized by mass-market advertising. Think television with the three legacy networks where a national commercial needs a minimum market of 10 million to justify the campaign. Nothing you see advertised on TV is a niche.

The very nature of general mass markets has led the television industry, and specifically the cable industry, to identify and differentiate programming in order to capture more specific clientele. Cable channels like Animal Planet, Discovery Military, Golf Channel, History Channel, and any of the myriad other special-interest channels describe areas of niche interest within the larger, general population. As far as we're concerned, these are all still niche-oriented mass markets. We're getting closer though, as these national niche channels also deliver good results for local, targeted advertising. An example is your local golf pro shop advertising on the Golf Channel. They're delivering a targeted, local message to a specific interest group.


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