Cultural consumers look for ways to express their individuality through the brands they use. Embracing a niche brand has particular appeal. Niche brands do offer more room for personal association since they are lesser known and more open to interpretation by the consumer. Perhaps that’s why many large companies are looking to capitalize on this trend through acquisitions of hip micro-brands.
A niche brand has its place on the Long Tail. But getting to scale is where the money’s at. And so being acquired can be alluring. It used to be that every brand started in a niche. And I suppose it depends on the niche company’s goal: sell an irresistible product (iPod) , create a committed culture (Zappos), create an incredibly useful product for a niche market (Adobe Photoshop), make piles of money (Microsoft).
Niche versus mainstream will become a key battleground in the coming years as cultural consumers flex their purchasing power. Some niche brands will remain passionately niche (Jones Soda). Some will be acquired by a larger company and struggle to maintain their essence. Still others will be created by larger companies, leaving consumers to discover who’s behind these brands. The good news is that the trend favors the niche player.
The underdog’s challenge is often something very practical. Take distribution for example. There’s a reason why humble Entenmann’s has been so successful. They show up. They’ve got a great fleet of truck drivers and dedicated island space in supermarkets. Woody Allen said 80% of success in life is showing up. Entenmann’s has this down cold. A while back it got acquired by Weston brands.
Recently, I learned about a young filmmaker, Kyle Alvarez, who is bringing his first film to market. Great, I thought, a niche brand about to be born! The film, Easier With Practice, follows a young writer who sets out to promote his unpublished novel. I’ll follow Kyle as he attempts to take his indie film to market. Surely there will be lessons we’ll learn from his journey.
For anyone attempting to make something happen, build a niche brand, or contribute something meaningful to the culture, I invite you to follow along as Kyle takes his movie to market!.