The dictionary defines the word “niche” as a “recess or hollow”. In the business world, it generally describes a slot in the larger market place; a business opportunity that, apparently, has been overlooked. It is an unmet need in the community or in the market place.
A national business consulting group, Income Links, suggests a simple formula when looking for a business opportunity: “What frustrates you? What is a freqent frustration in your community and in your personal contacts?”
Here is an example of exploiting a niche market.
Kevin Hardy is a hard working young man. He is a third year student at the University of Alaska. He enjoys his summer job as a tour bus guide. Kevin has conversations daily with tourists and a frequent comment is “I’m having a heck of a time sleeping with your almost constant light. I can’t get to sleep at night, and I wake up at 3:30 A.M.”
During the off season, Kevin began to explore the idea of selling sleep masks.
His first steps were to do an informal market study. He checked out the availability of sleep masks in the area. Are they readily available? Are they effective? Are they comfortable to wear?
Kevin did a Web search to see what companies manufactured or distributed sleep masks. He found that there was an enormous number of available sleep masks in various fabrics , designs, and prices. None were available in Anchorage stores.
Kevin ordered some representative supplies. He examined the various products. He and several friends tried them out.
Kevins next step was to answer the questions of a basic business plan.
Kevin researched all of these issues, developed a test market for sleep masks, and completed a formal business plan over a three month period.
The result: Alaska Sleep Masks, with products that are both functional and have an Alaska theme; a souvenir of their trip. Kevin is sharing a booth at the Saturday Market. He has two small hotels that have purchased them in quantity to give to their guests. Several gift shops are stocking the product. He has approached other interested hotels. Sales are brisk.
Another market that Kevin is exploring are the Cruise Ship Lines. He has contacted their Corporate headquarters and is awaiting a response. If the response is positive, and he obtains a contract, Kevin will move toward doing only wholesale business.
The college student, the president of Alaska Sleep Masks, is showing us how to “think like an entrepreneur.”
For assistance or additional information contact:The Center for Human Development by email | 2702 Gambell Street, Suite 103, Anchorage, AK 99503 | Phone: 907-272-8270 | Toll Free: 1-800-243-2199
The Center for Human Development and UAA are an AA/EO employer and educational institution.