Most good businesses have a niche, a specific appeal that helps them directly hit the target market that can help you grow. Businesses with an inflexible demand, necessities like plumbing, often don’t need too much of a niche beyond a location they can serve. When starting a food business, you might think that it would follow the same rules. However, food products are somewhere between a necessity and a lifestyle product, and finding your niche can genuinely help you excel your expectations. But what do niches in the food industry look like?
Is niche marketing for you?
Now, it can be hard to tell which products should be fit into niche marketing and which should not, especially when they’re products with a hybrid appeal-like food. If your food product leans more towards general use by a wide population, then you might not want to narrow your marketing scope for it too much. You might just want to focus on the quality of the ingredients and products and the uses of the product itself. If you do think that niche marketing might help your product, specifically, then here are some of the potential routes you can take with it.
The health angle
Aside from its taste and its utility in meals, as a snack, or otherwise, the health aspect of your food product is probably one of the easiest niches to hit. To that end, you should look at the nutritional value of your product and think about not just how it fits into part of a healthy lifestyle but how it, specifically is beneficial to your consumer’s health. Will it help them fuel their exercise? Does it help to strengthen and protect their bones? If you want an example of how well this strategy is done, just look at how certain yogurt companies have been able to carry an entire brand off of their probiotic benefits. Before those marketing campaigns, you might be hard-pressed to find people who even knew what probiotics were.
This can be related to a health angle in your marketing, but the niche of proposing your food products towards a certain diet can get a lot more specific. Some of the most obvious niches in this field are foods that are vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free. However, outside of the dietary restrictions, there are also foods that people might eat if they’re looking to stick to a specific diet. For instance, getting a keto certification for your product could help you stand out to those who are on a ketogenic diet. You don’t have to exclude other audiences from enjoying your food products, but if you can find a set niche of consumers who would look to your product specifically for them, it can help a lot.
An ethical focus
Just like there is some crossover between foods that are suited for the health angle and those more for the specific diet angle, there is also some synergy between foods for certain diets and those that are aimed at the more conscientious customer. One of the appeals of vegetarian and vegan options for many people is the ethical value they have in not participating in the consumption of animals. However, there are other ways to highlight the sustainability or ethical quality of your foods, as well. You can seek fair trade status to make it clear that your foods were made without exploitation or other nefarious practices. Free-range animal products are often seen as more ethical than those that are implicitly involved in factory farming, too.
The premium taste
There are foods that speak to the needs of some audiences, such as those that meet their dietary needs. There are those that speak to their values, such as their ethics towards the environment and labor. Then there are those that speak to wants. If you want to sell to rich customers, then you need to speak to their wants. Exclusivity, quality, and, to some degree, unavailability are some of the major driving points of marketing to a more upscale market. One of the best ways you can catch the attention of this audience (aside from pricing and store placement strategies) is to have partnerships with restaurants that are likely to help sing the praises and spread word of mouth about the ingredients that they use.
Appealing to your community
Another want that you might consider speaking to is talking to a specific community with your marketing. Often, this might be a community that you are part of, yourself. People’s identities influence a lot of their lives, including what they eat. For instance, if your food product originates from your own culture, then using your culture in your marketing can help you speak to others who might share it or have an interest in it. LGBTQ marketing is getting increasingly popular, as well. There are some foods that are even marketing specifically towards hobbyists, such as products that tend to sell themselves as a “gamer fuel.” If you can fit your food to an identity, it can help it find a dedicated niche.
Telling your brand’s story
When you have figured out what your niche is, incorporating it into your brand is what comes next. This is typically best done through a brand story. As the name implies, the brand story is a narrative that explains precisely what value your product brings. Writing one can help you have a consistent touchstone to refer back to in your marketing and can serve as the basis for every advertising effort that you make following that. Consider making a brand story for your food product, whether it’s about the product’s origins, who it is for, what benefits it has, or otherwise. It can help your target market quickly identify the niche you’re aiming at, which makes it more likely to land with them.
Finding a niche can be tough in any market, but it’s worth taking the time to do it. Given how people can become so attached to their favorite foods, it’s especially worth doing it for your food products.