microniche

Microniche: The New Standard In The Era Of Dominating Digital Tech Giants

A microniche is a subset of potential customers within a niche. In the era of dominating digital super-platforms, identifying a microniche can kick off the strategy of digital businesses to prevent competition against large platforms. As the microniche becomes a niche, then a market, scale becomes an option.

Niche marketing isn’t enough anymore

There used to be a time when starting a business in a new space implied a market big enough which we called a niche.

Amazon, for instance, did just that. When it didn’t know whether the internet would prove the proper distribution channel and a new way of doing business. Rather than build an e-commerce selling anything. It started from a specific niche: books.

When it finally proved that e-commerce was a viable business model. Amazon expanded its selection. First in adjacent niches. Then in larger and larger niches. Until it reached a critical mass. And it stopped being e-commerce and it became a platform driven by a powerful flywheel and network effects.

As those digital tech giants like Amazon and Google were among the first to dominate the digital space. They were also the ones that now have the most control over the distribution of content and the purchases made over the internet (in the western world).

As new platforms that emerged throughout the first decade of the 2000s, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, the media industry got more and more consolidated into the hands of a few players, with an incredible grasp for digital business modeling.

Those new models implied a few key changes, which made digital businesses move:

It also made it possible for the same digital platforms to reach billions of users across the world. Thus redefining the concepts of niche marketing and market segments.

Enter the microniche era

Therefore, if you’re starting a business today you need to make sure to identify a potential target, by being as specific as possible.

Indeed, generally, micro niches represent a small part of potential customers within a broader niche, and while niches do have advantages, micro niches present even more opportunities in the short run. Some of them are: 

  • A less crowded space.
  • With potentially high conversion.
  • An extremely engagement community.
  • Very high margins.
  • A strong demand.
  • A potentially strong brand recognition.
  • Thus a lasting competitive advantage.

How do you pick a microniche?

Let’s start from a simple example. Let’s say you’re opening up a bookstore, looking for opportunities to kick off the store.

Where do you start?

The platform with the most data when it comes to books is definitely Amazon. You start from the Amazon broadest categories to start looking for opportunities:

There was a time when it was possible to stop there. As the web was not such a crowded space for you to start a business. However, nowadays you need to a lower level to look for your microniche.

Thus, saying something like “I’ll start from literature, or historic fiction” isn’t enough. Those are too broad. So where do you start?

Go a level down:

Within Amazon’s literature and historical fiction, we can identify a further category for us to start with. For this example I took something like “historical fiction” and went a level down:

I selected for instance, “Reinassance” as the key area within the micro-target I’m picking to kick off my business distribution strategy.

Thus the process looks something like that:

selecting-a-mirconiche

Within that microniche you can see how the bestseller has quite some substantial reach:

bestseller-historical-fiction

The interesting thing is that what it might actually seem a very small audience it turns out to be a decent audience for a business which is starting out.

Indeed, by crossing the data from Amazon to the keyword volume for the book’s author “Johanna Lindsey” you can see how she is a micro-celebrity:

keyword-analysis-microniche

Example of how a microniche analysis uncovers the audience around a micro-celebrity and it opens up opportunities to kick off your business distribution (data: SEMRush)

It is interesting to notice how we uncovered a potential audience made of over four thousand people each month, by just doing simple research on Amazon and by crossing that with keyword volume.

Thus, if you were to start a bookstore in that category you might want to make sure to have all the books of that author available, create a content strategy around it.

And for instance, invite the author for an off-line session with her fans. While for instance, also transmitting that live online so that you can reach a wider audience and create the first set of loyal customers for your bookstore!

Key takeaway

As the web has become a crowded space, plenty of businesses which serve any kind of niche. Gaining traction in this scenario has become quite expensive. Therefore, it is important to identify a micro-niche, to kick off your customer base, and make you recognized among your potential customers.

A micro-niche has several advantages. Such as higher margins, better brand recognition and potentially a deeper connection with a smaller audience.

Thus, if you’re starting a business today you might want to start from identifying your micro-niche!

Read next: What Is Niche Marketing And Why You Need A Niche Marketing Strategy

Business resources:

Read Next: Business Model Innovation, Business Models.

Related Innovation Frameworks

Business Engineering

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Business Model Innovation

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Business model innovation is about increasing the success of an organization with existing products and technologies by crafting a compelling value proposition able to propel a new business model to scale up customers and create a lasting competitive advantage. And it all starts by mastering the key customers.

Innovation Theory

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The innovation loop is a methodology/framework derived from the Bell Labs, which produced innovation at scale throughout the 20th century. They learned how to leverage a hybrid innovation management model based on science, invention, engineering, and manufacturing at scale. By leveraging individual genius, creativity, and small/large groups.

Types of Innovation

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According to how well defined is the problem and how well defined the domain, we have four main types of innovations: basic research (problem and domain or not well defined); breakthrough innovation (domain is not well defined, the problem is well defined); sustaining innovation (both problem and domain are well defined); and disruptive innovation (domain is well defined, the problem is not well defined).

Continuous Innovation

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That is a process that requires a continuous feedback loop to develop a valuable product and build a viable business model. Continuous innovation is a mindset where products and services are designed and delivered to tune them around the customers’ problem and not the technical solution of its founders.

Disruptive Innovation

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Disruptive innovation as a term was first described by Clayton M. Christensen, an American academic and business consultant whom The Economist called “the most influential management thinker of his time.” Disruptive innovation describes the process by which a product or service takes hold at the bottom of a market and eventually displaces established competitors, products, firms, or alliances.

Business Competition

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In a business world driven by technology and digitalization, competition is much more fluid, as innovation becomes a bottom-up approach that can come from anywhere. Thus, making it much harder to define the boundaries of existing markets. Therefore, a proper business competition analysis looks at customer, technology, distribution, and financial model overlaps. While at the same time looking at future potential intersections among industries that in the short-term seem unrelated.

Technological Modeling

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Technological modeling is a discipline to provide the basis for companies to sustain innovation, thus developing incremental products. While also looking at breakthrough innovative products that can pave the way for long-term success. In a sort of Barbell Strategy, technological modeling suggests having a two-sided approach, on the one hand, to keep sustaining continuous innovation as a core part of the business model. On the other hand, it places bets on future developments that have the potential to break through and take a leap forward.

Diffusion of Innovation

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Sociologist E.M Rogers developed the Diffusion of Innovation Theory in 1962 with the premise that with enough time, tech products are adopted by wider society as a whole. People adopting those technologies are divided according to their psychologic profiles in five groups: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards.

Frugal Innovation

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In the TED talk entitled “creative problem-solving in the face of extreme limits” Navi Radjou defined frugal innovation as “the ability to create more economic and social value using fewer resources. Frugal innovation is not about making do; it’s about making things better.” Indian people call it Jugaad, a Hindi word that means finding inexpensive solutions based on existing scarce resources to solve problems smartly.

Constructive Disruption

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A consumer brand company like Procter & Gamble (P&G) defines “Constructive Disruption” as: a willingness to change, adapt, and create new trends and technologies that will shape our industry for the future. According to P&G, it moves around four pillars: lean innovation, brand building, supply chain, and digitalization & data analytics.

Growth Matrix

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In the FourWeekMBA growth matrix, you can apply growth for existing customers by tackling the same problems (gain mode). Or by tackling existing problems, for new customers (expand mode). Or by tackling new problems for existing customers (extend mode). Or perhaps by tackling whole new problems for new customers (reinvent mode).

Innovation Funnel

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An innovation funnel is a tool or process ensuring only the best ideas are executed. In a metaphorical sense, the funnel screens innovative ideas for viability so that only the best products, processes, or business models are launched to the market. An innovation funnel provides a framework for the screening and testing of innovative ideas for viability.

Idea Generation

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Design Thinking

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Tim Brown, Executive Chair of IDEO, defined design thinking as “a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” Therefore, desirability, feasibility, and viability are balanced to solve critical problems.

Other resources for your business:

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