Niche marketing – the psychology behind success

Yesterday, I caught a few minutes of Real Housewives of Vancouver, where business-minded Mom ‘Ronnie’ was in a design planning meeting, regarding her idea for a new wine brand that she proposed to call ‘Rehab’.

The ad agency were asking all the right questions, which Ronnie really didn’t seem to understand. Who was the product aimed at? What was the story behind it? What image or personality did it have? What occasion would it be suited to?

Ronnie, like many first-time writers I’ve spoken to, didn’t want to tie herself down to a ‘niche market’. She wanted an instant, across-the-board success. “It’s for everyone” she said. “People drinking at home, or during the day, or getting ready to go out…”

Nothing starts out aimed at ‘everyone’ unless it’s toilet paper.

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No comment… 🙂

The problem isn’t the concept of ‘niche marketing’. The problem is the widely-held misconception of how niche marketing works. The intent and purpose of ‘niche marketing’.

The misconception is that you ‘find your niche market’ and only target them as your consumers. This is only correct if your product has age restrictions, usually enforced by law.

Let’s say you are a science fiction author who wants to break into the crossover sci-fi romance market. You have penned the equivalent of Star Wars. You immediately want to reach “everyone” as Ronnie stated.

You don’t start with everyone. You start with the design concept for your one perfect reader in the whole world. Just one.

And then you make everyone else in the world want to be that reader.

Your one perfect reader is the hottest guy (or girl) on the science campus. They wear designer loafers bought on eBay and own an epic collection of zombie t-shirts from online artists. They’ve met Stephen Hawking. They drink cherry brandy and Coke because it tastes awesome. They prefer DeviantArt to Pinterest, listen to Calvin Harris, and their ideal party weekend would be a trip to Vegas to see Britney Spears live in residence. They own at least one of the original Star Wars branded pieces of merchandise. You never see them play or hear them bragging, but you just know they’d thrash you at pool or poker. They’re an expert on the moon of Enceladus, and will tell you all about it while making you the best vegan Pad Thai noodles that you’ve ever eaten in your life.

Does that reader sound appealing to a sci-fi author? Damn right it does. And probably to some other potential readers as well. Who are Googling Pad Thai recipes as we speak.

Vegan Black Metal Chef: Pad Thai

Here’s another example. Cristal champagne. Originally commissioned for Russian royalty in the 1800s, with a bottle designed to defy assassination attempts, it wasn’t available to the public until 1945. It was so exclusive and its potential market so tiny, that to drink it became a badge of honour. And by the turn of the 21st century it was starting to be sloshed over mixing decks by high-profile DJs and poured all over hip-hop girls in hot tubs by rap musicians. Its niche market went from ‘virtually no-one’ to ‘virtually everyone’.

Tupac Shakur ‘Thug Passion’ – also the name of his Cristal/Alize cocktail

But that took 60 years, I hear you wail!

It doesn’t always take that long. If the design for your perfect reader is enviable enough that everyone wants to become that reader, then reading your book – like drinking that wine – will by proxy make them that reader. In their minds, at least.

With alcohol, very few people want to see themselves as the lonely idle bastard sitting at home in a string vest and one shoe on, watching Homes Under the Hammer while their cat slowly expires of mange and unpaid bills drop onto the mat. That’s someone who primarily (frequently) wants and needs toilet paper. That’s ‘everyone’.

They want to see themselves at the front row on the Strip surrounded by Cristal and close friends who never throw up on them screaming themselves hoarse watching Britney Spears live, while she announces mid-performance that there’s a really hot guy right in front of her and she likes his zombie t-shirt. In fact, she’d like him to take it off so she can wear it home.

Britney Spears live, Las Vegas, in a jazz club stylee… niiiiice…  🙂

See? The niche market is not your enemy. It’s your consumer’s aspiration and future adventures. You’re just there to hold the door open a tiny chink, and allow everyone else a brief glimpse of where they could be.

The Dos Equis beer commercials spell it out for you 😉

So, I expect you’re all wondering how that DIET is going?

🙂

Been abandoned? Been swept quietly under the rug?

Nope! 🙂

I’m happy to say that so far, I am winning against the Evil Pasta (same calories as sugar!! Boooo!)

Since the summer I’ve lost the weight I wanted to lose, and a bit more. My only secret, I guess, is just counting calories and watching portion sizes of starchy carbs. I wouldn’t eat 500g of sugar all in one go as a meal, so it makes sense not to eat the same weight in uncooked pasta, which has virtually the same calorie-count. If I cook a portion of pasta for myself, I’ll weigh out 75g dry before cooking, have a small dollop of tomato sauce and mix in some tuna, basil leaf and a few chopped olives. Jacket potatoes or sweet potatoes are good too – or a thin-based veggie pizza. Also I make fritattas – like a Spanish omelette – just two eggs for protein content cooked with onion, peppers and mushrooms, occasionally sliced potato or a small handful of cooked pasta to bulk out. Very filling.

I do still eat otherwise – I’ll have one day off dieting every few days, but find that I’m not that hungry or craving anything anyway, now I don’t have to haul extra weight around. And diet shake mixes (I use Tesco’s own brand) are more digestible and effective for me, when mixed with soya milk instead of cow’s milk. It raises the protein content of the drink, at the loss of carbohydrate content. I have my shakes for breakfast, and sometimes before bed if I’m hungry then. Never go to the supermarket on an empty stomach now – bad for the wallet as well as the scales…

Latest thing I changed was switching from regular tea to Roobois (Redbush) to cut down on caffeine. Now I’ll have a coffee once or twice a day for caffeine, instead of caffeine in pretty much every drink.

Still hula-hooping for exercise and for fun. Was outdoors the other day hooping for an hour in a scarf and mittens 🙂 Maybe not in the hailstones that we had earlier though…

So, next thing I’ve got to look forward to is Christmas! And I am going to eat! It’s not a big deal really, only a day or two – same as if I was taking a day off my diet to get a Chinese takeaway, or make any other roast dinner. It won’t be any different from when I made Thanksgiving dinner for DS-10 last month to teach her a bit of an American history lesson.

It’s weird, the main feeling I get from losing a bit of weight when I need to, is re-gaining a sense of self-control again. Like I don’t really notice it slipping when I’m depressed, just that I know I’m comfort-eating – and when I get that more positive feeling of self-control returning, I know I’m not depressed any more. Mood-wise this year hasn’t been great up until recently, gaining new scars and waiting for more surgery. So besides always hoping that the next eye repair will be the last – anything else that I can do to improve on my inner self-image in the meantime is a bonus.

Now, bring on dinner! I’m ready for ya 🙂

Pasta is evil…

Did you know that there are the same number of calories in 176g of uncooked oven chips/fries as there are in only 75g of uncooked dried wholewheat pasta? (Approx 240kcal). White pasta is even higher – 270kcal for 75g, the same as white rice. Basically, for weight, it’s nearly the same as golden granulated sugar:

SUGAR: 400kcals per 100g, or 4kcals/g ~ UNCOOKED WHITE PASTA/RICE: 360kcals per 100g, or 3.6kcals/g ~ UNCOOKED FROZEN OVEN CHIPS: 136kcals per 100g, or 1.36kcals/g.

Today I fit into my next size down of jeans (woohoo!). I’ve lost nearly 12 lbs so far, after my first three weeks on a diet. The other day, as well as not eating meals after 6.30pm (I allow myself a later apple or satsuma if I get hungry), sticking to 1000 calories a day, including a diet shake in the morning made with soya milk, and also hula-hooping on my rollerblades for exercise – I decided to buy some itty-bitty food measuring scales for dieters so that I could weigh things like pasta and oven chips before cooking, instead of using guesswork, if I wanted to eat them. You can imagine what a surprise it was to look at the comparative calories per weight of both! I was probably consuming at least three times as much pasta per meal before I went on a diet. It was quite a shock to realise that one pasta bolognese meal in the past potentially contained all of my daily recommended calories in one go, for someone not on a diet.

Okay, pasta expands when cooked (depending on how al dente you like it). If you eat a lasagne made with three sheets of dried wholewheat pasta, weighing in at only 60g, and consider the calorie content of added sauces and cheese, it’s probably comparative to a small unsatifying spag bol. One of my faves was lasagne with chips/fries – like you get in a typical pub menu – so I bought some of those tiny circular Pyrex ramekins and made little lasange pots, with two layers of broken-up lasagne (about half a sheet in total fit per pot, or 10g) and a dollop of the sauces between, and a teaspoon of micro-grated Red leicester on the top. I cooked one, with 165g of oven chips on the side, covered the other pots uncooked with cling-film and froze them. So for about 36kcals worth of pasta, less than 100kcals worth of made-up non-vegetarian bolognese sauce, only 60kcals worth of white sauce (one-eighth of a jar), and about 10kcals worth of cheese, and 225kcals of oven fries, I get dinner for less than 500kcals without losing out on what I enjoy.

A bit like ordering a Happy Meal instead of the grown-up version – which is what I do if DS10 and I get munchies after going to the cinema. A cheeseburger Happy Meal, with a diet drink, is less than 600kcals. Chicken nugget versions are even less.

I’m not a four-legged herbivore with multiple stomachs, and therefore not designed to munch my way through a row of garden salad every day (not without terminal depression from loss of healthy neurotransmitter production, and attacks of anti-social wind anyway). And I’m not a gym-bunny burning 3000kcals a day (I’m sat here writing on my computer, for Chrissakes – what did you think I do all day?) – although now I do sometimes wear rollerblades around the house all afternoon, and twirl a hula-hoop outside, while the neighbours tolerate The Noisettes and Gorillaz at a sociable level from my kitchen window – so pasta on an industrial scale is to be avoided.

The most my muscles need to do is keep me upright. Like I said, it’s all about the physics. What burns off has to be greater than what goes in.

So if you’re on a diet, unless you’re hitting that gym really hard, keep the pasta content on the down low – like I said, think lasagne instead of penne

And sometimes multi-tasking. I had to re-do my highlights last week – so I moved my twist-stepper in front of the mirror while doing the hook-and-plastic-hat thing. By the time I’d finished I’d done 500 steps…

🙂