Can’t Find a Niche? Create a Fake One!

Remember that cool campaign by a little company called Johnson & Johnson pitching a hair shampoo? I think it went live in the mid ‘90s or something.

What they were basically pitching was something about it being the best shampoo for your baby. “No more tears” – the slogan was.

What ended up happening were incredible results in sales. Of course, everyone under 3 is not really wealthy (or aware of the situation) so the campaign was targeted towards parents. Parents who were expected (or were they?) to buy this shampoo for their kids.

But as soon as they got it, a thought has struck their minds – “Wait a minute, if it’s good for my kid then it will certainly be good for me too.” So they ended up using it themselves. A similar thought appeared in the minds of many people – “If this thing is good for small babies then it should be great for me too.”

In the end everyone and their dog were using it. A massive success. Something that was advertised as “great for babies” all of a sudden became “great for every creature.”

How can you capitalize on that, and use it in your marketing?

If you can’t find a niche, create a fake one. Just like J&J.

(Well, I’m pretty sure that they didn’t try to create a fake niche with that campaign, but nevertheless, this is what ended up happening.)

What is a fake niche?

First of all, it’s not really fake. I just like to call it this way (it sounds better). And second of all, let’s start with what a real niche is.

The fancy definition states that a niche is a focused, targeted portion (subset) of a market sector. In English: It’s a group of people who have some specific characteristic in common. The more specific the characteristic is the tighter and narrower the niche is.

For example, a real niche is a group of people interested in World War II 1:45 tank models, people trying to learn to play blues sounds on a bass guitar, digital photography beginners wanting to improve their portrait shooting skills, small business owners thinking about hiring some help, and so on.

Back to the fake niche.

A fake niche is a niche that sounds real, but in fact it’s just a clever way of convincing the members of a bigger niche (or market) that a specific product is better than what competition has to offer.

Johnson & Johnson is a prime example here. The “baby shampoo” niche sounds real, but what it’s actually saying is “our shampoo is so good that even your baby will love it.”

In other words, a fake niche is something that was created by adding some additional characteristics to a bigger niche, but didn’t result in overall reduction of the bigger niche’s size.

Some examples: baby shampoo; winter socks, so warm that mountain climbers use them; the favorite champagne in Hollywood; energy drink for athletes; best tool belts for professional mechanics.

All of these niches are a part of a bigger niche, and all of these products can be successfully sold to the members of these bigger niches. Here’s how it plays out:

  • Baby shampoo – good for everyone.
  • Winter socks, so warm that mountain climbers use them – for everyone who wants some damn warm socks.
  • The favorite champagne in Hollywood – for everyone who wants to have a good, movie-star-like drink.
  • Energy drink for athletes – for everyone who feels tired and exhausted.
  • Best tool belts for professional mechanics – for everyone who wants a good tool belt.

How does it look like for the real niches I’ve mentioned? Well, if you’re selling DIY models to people interested in World War II 1:45 tank models, then that’s pretty much it. Members of World-War-II-models niche probably won’t be excited about your product just because you’re selling it to the tank models’ fans.

OK, enough with the definitions! Here’s what really matters:

How to create a fake niche

In a nutshell: Look at your product. Find its most important benefit. Find a niche – i.e. a group of people – who are seen as paying exceptional attention to this specific benefit. Say that you’re selling to them. Fin.

Let’s stick with the winter socks example. Let’s say that you’re selling those.

The first step. You already know what your product is. Socks. Winter socks.

The benefit. Well, it’s obvious this time. Winter socks should keep feet warm so no one gets ill.

Who do you think should care about this the most? Who needs their feet kept warm at all times or could have some serious problems otherwise? Mountain climbers.

(And it doesn’t even have to be true. You see, I don’t know if mountain climbers care about this stuff or not, but they are sure seen as the ones that should.)

And that’s it. You’ve got your own baby shampoo.

Tell me what your niche is. Who are you selling to? Is it a real niche? Do you know any other fake niches?