Editor's note: This is a guest post from Omo and Eulanda, co-founders of Hey! Dip Your Toes In (HDYTI), a platform promoting creative digital content with a focus on global travel and food culture. Find out more about how to develop a niche marketing strategy of your own with Omo and Eulanda by signing up for our upcoming webinar. Details at the end of the post.
Have you ever heard of a ‘mancation’?
According to the Euromonitor 2016 World Travel Market report, hotels and online travel agents are seeing an increase in the popularity of ‘male-only activity holidays’.
Savvy tour and activity operators are starting to develop packages and marketing strategies to target this particularly attractive niche.
What is a niche marketing strategy?
Simply put, a niche market is a specific or targeted subset of a broader market. A niche marketing strategy therefore focuses on delivering a product or service to address the needs of a particular audience or target group. Examples include niches based on price, age, gender, income bracket, and specific interests.
Small businesses cannot be all things to all customers. While being a generalist may have its benefits, defining a niche market is one key to long-term success.
For example, Contiki and Flashpack are both group tour companies. However Contiki caters to 18 to 35 year olds while Flashpack serves mainly 30 to 40 year olds. Each age demographic has specific needs and both companies tailor their marketing strategies accordingly.
A great example of a niche market would be looking at the rise of solo female travellers. However, targeting solo females is not specific enough. Targeting solo female, budget travellers who love outdoor adventures, and earn £30,000 and up would be considered a niche market.
The key consideration with niche marketing is whether you want to be a ‘small fish in a big pond’ or a ‘big fish in a small pond’.
Why does appealing to a niche increase marketing efficiency?
When targeting a smaller part of a large market your marketing efficiency increases.
By targeting a smaller demographic with selected products tailored to meet their specific and unique needs, you are putting yourself forward as an expert in that field/experience. This increases the customer's trust in your product.
For the consumer, trust is often a major factor when choosing a niche market tour operator over a generic one. The customer believes that the operator has extensive knowledge of the niche market and expects ‘no surprises’ when experiencing the product or service. This creates an opportunity for companies to build brand loyalty.
Other benefits of marketing to a niche audience include:
- Increased brand recognition
- Reduced competition
- Deeper customer knowledge
- Opportunities to target high-end, high-yield travellers
- Focused deployment of marketing resources
How to determine if your company should appeal to a niche or to a broad audience?
The decision to go niche will depend on a number of factors including:
- Market opportunity - What opportunities are opening up in the wider market?
- Your budget - Smaller marketing budgets can go further in niche markets.
- Your expertise - What subjects are you most passionate about?
- Potential type and size of the audience - What customer demographics are most interested in your product?
- Your competition - What can you do differently from your competition?
To decide whether to go niche or stay broad, spend time listening to your customers
One of the best ways to determine whether your company could appeal to a niche rather than a broad audience is to listen to your existing and potential customers.
While offline platforms such as TV, radio and print remain good sources of information, we advocate ‘social media listening’, especially on platforms like Twitter. Use tools like Tweetdeck to find or initiate valuable social media conversations.
For example, a tour operator who does walking tours in a major port city could join online conversations about cruise travel to find out what types of shore activities cruise travellers might be interested in. This could unearth possible opportunities to narrow down walking tours to niche areas like art, food, music and architecture.
Using your website, blog, newsletters and social media, engage your audience with creative content about your prospective niche and encourage feedback. Using surveys, polls and quizzes, ask them whether a particular niche would appeal to them.
Focus on customers who express an interest in the niche area you’re considering
There are generally two types of customers: those who have almost no knowledge of the market and can be guided more easily and those who consider themselves travel experts or connoisseurs (the discerners).
The discerners are by definition more selective with their choice. They mostly know what they want and probably have already had some experience with your product and/or your intended niche market. The discerner is often looking for innovation and may be more open to niche product offerings.
By engaging in conversations with discerners, you are more likely to glean knowledge about what worked well (or not so well) from their previous experiences. This could highlight potential opportunities to differentiate yourself by offering niche products to better serve their needs.
The 2013 version of the Euromonitor World Travel Market Global Trends Report identified ‘unmarried women with money to spend on their nieces, nephews, or god-children’, a demographic they nicknamed “PANKs” (Professional Aunt, No Kids), as a potential niche audience.
Intrepid Travel, a small group adventure travel site, responded to this by including aunts, as well as uncles and grandparents in their marketing.
While some niches may be more viable than others, in recent years the travel industry has seen a significant increase in the number of discerning travellers who seek less generic tours and activities.
With the proliferation of travel information on social media, this trend is only likely to increase. This creates opportunities for tour and activity operators to develop products for marketing to niche audiences.