Dumpster diving for niche market products is my way describing the process of creating new niche market products. I read once that for every 3000 new product ideas you get one successful product. Obviously, this was a six figure study funded by the federal government for some university research lab, but I digress.

The 3000 new product idea figure is quite believable if you think of the giant mass marketers, which have precise criterion for fitting into their existing product families. New product ideas can be tossed into the dumpster for a variety of reasons:

• Is the new product idea compatible with the company strategy?
• Is the new product idea compatible the existing market or consumption behavior?
• Does the product offer an advantage over existing products?
• Is the product simple for the buyer and user to understand?
• Does it stand up to the test of market research?
• Is their a need for the product?
• Is the market big enough to make a profit?

At a mass market firm, a lot of good ideas get dumped in the dumpster; some deserve to be thrown away while others just did not the company strategy or did not serve a big enough market for the company to support it. Additionally, Netscape says it takes 32 months to gestate a new product, which may not necessarily successful. Behind this product launch are all the failed product ideas.

This is where the niche marketer comes in to play. What does not fit the mass marketer may nicely fit into the entrepreneur’s domain. The optimum situation for the entrepreneur is an overlooked or under served market segment that has a customer base big enough for the smaller firm to make a profit, but small enough that the mass marketer will pass on it.

This allows the entrepreneur to focus on the customers’ wants and needs, rather than always worrying about the competition. Successful niche marketers become experts or “knowledge brokers” about their customers’ problems and issues; the customers learn to depend on them for answers and advice.

The best niche products are not cool or easy to make; they are solutions to real problems that people will have tomorrow. Often mass marketers will fixate on doing what they know best or on doing what is easy to build or to design. They play it safe by leveraging existing resources. A better approach is to think in terms of work processes at your customer; if you can, project into the future and try to anticipate problems or jobs that will need to be done. Help your customer solve these problems or get the job done.

It could be that cool new ideas may have been tossed in the dumpster by the big guys. You know the expression: one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2006 All rights reserved.
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