Market Specialization: How to Reach the Niche in Your Submarket

Is it better to specialize or mass market? How did Dove soap carve out a niche?

You should have a core market. Within that, you should have a submarket. Within that submarket, you should have a niche. Then, according to Russell Brunson, you should concentrate even further by creating a new category.

Read more to learn Brunson’s advice for market specialization and to get some alternative ideas from other marketing experts.

Market Specialization

Brunson advises that, within your core market, you identify the submarket you want to reach (for example, within wealth, you might focus on real estate investing), and further, the niche within that submarket (you might focus, for example, on short-term rental investing).

Finally, within that niche, figure out what category you can create that you can dominate. Brunson emphasizes the importance of creating a new category within your niche rather than competing within an existing category. This is because existing categories will already have a market leader, and it’s generally not possible to dethrone an established leader. Instead, this level of market specialization allows you to become the market leader in your own new category.

To create a new category, look for customers who are unhappy with the offerings they’re using now—people who will readily complain about a company, product, or service and who are actively looking for a better option. If you come up with a solution to fit their needs and answer their dissatisfaction, you have a ready-made market that you can dominate. Then, position your offer as different from what’s already out there. Brunson cites the example of Dove, who positioned themselves as “not soap” even though their product was quite clearly soap. They created a new category of “moisturizer soap” that set them apart from their competition. 

Market Specialization Versus Mass Marketing

The debate over whether a company should cater to a small category of consumers, as Brunson advocates, or try to appeal to as large a market as possible through mass marketing—basic messaging about your brand for a general audience—has been a longstanding topic in the world of marketing. 

In Purple Cow, Seth Godin comes down on the side of market specialization, writing that businesses can only stand out in a crowded marketplace by tailoring their offering to the needs and desires of a specific niche. He argues that the era when mass marketing was effective—during the 20th century when television and newspaper publications had a monopoly on advertising messaging—has come to an end, and, in today’s world, consumers are too accustomed to ads to give any of them much attention. Further, he writes that consumers have so many options (and are often satisfied with them) that it’s increasingly difficult for new companies to stand out (mirroring Brunson’s note that established market leaders are hard to topple). 

Instead, Godin advises, as Brunson does, that you seek a niche category that’s less likely to have an established leader and where people are dissatisfied with their current products—as Dove did in Brunson’s example.

However, not everyone agrees. In How Brands Grow, Byron Sharp argues that the notion that mass marketing no longer works is flawed. He says that mass marketing is still the most effective way to increase awareness of your offerings and that, when you try to target a small demographic, you’ll inevitably limit your reach—and thus limit your potential for sales. 

In the end, the debate might come down to what kind of product or service your company is offering, as one marketing approach might be more appropriate for certain businesses than the other. 
Market Specialization: How to Reach the Niche in Your Submarket

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Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She devours nonfiction, especially in the areas of history, theology, and philosophy. A switch to audiobooks has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. She appreciates idea-driven books—and a classic murder mystery now and then. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

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