If a company can get into a niche, it can often be much more successful than if it tries to market to everyone. This is because niches tend to have very active, very passionate, and very connected people. Niche content has a higher likelihood of going viral, giving a niche company a lot of exposure. In addition, because niches are small, there can be less competition.
Today we’ll do a case study on the opportunities present in the Preppers niche. Preppers are a textbook case of a niche – it’s a small group of very passionate people preparing for and talking about an eventual doomsday. We’ll look at what challenges and opportunities there are in this niche.
Why This Is a Great Niche
Doomsday preppers are very vocal and passionate. They are eager to share information with each other and eager to hear what preparation others are doing. They often discuss doomsday scenarios in order to brainstorm what type of preparation may be needed. Due to the internet and the TV show Doomsday Preppers, this niche is becoming better connected and even more passionate.
Preppers can be very private people, especially about their stockpiles since many of them are afraid of looting once doomsday occurs. If you are considered an outsider, it can be difficult to get preppers to listen to you or share their stories. There is also the challenge of language – homesteaders, preppers, and survivalists are sometimes considered the same, but in fact consider themselves quite different. Making a mistake in your marketing regarding these labels can ignite a flame-war or get your company blacklisted in the niche.
In addition, there is as much misinformation as information in the prepper forums. As a company focusing on preppers, you would not only need to establish authority, you would need to do appropriate research to make sure you do not repeat false information.
Finally, preppers have very strongly held opinions. A simple discussion about how to communicate from a wooded area, or what is the single-most important piece of preparation equipment, can quickly become an all-out fight. Any company pursuing preppers would need to know how to harness that energy without becoming a target.
Because the US economy has slowed so much and the Eurozone is doing so poorly, many mainstream individuals are becoming interested in preparing for the worst. In addition, preppers have been getting a lot of media attention, fueling interest in the niche.
Preppers are also major consumers of information, and quickly attach themselves to new ideas that they believe are great solutions to their issues. Companies who can find ways to provide preppers with information or new products to help them survive a coming catastrophe will gain a vocal and loyal customer base.
Finally, a company marketing to preppers will find other similar customers eager to buy also. There is a growing back-to-the-land self-sufficiency movement, in addition to nostalgic folks who miss the old time ways and tools. Many companies who are doing fine business for preppers started out intending to furnish government contracts or local farmers, and an entirely new customer base is growing their business.
The Successes: Two Stories
Scott Bales runs a company called Deep Earth Bunker in Dallas Texas. He builds fortified shelters that sell from between $50,000 to an astonishing $10 million. A prepper himself, he knows exactly what preppers fears are and has positioned himself to help. In addition, he broadcasts a radio show on weekend nights discussing preparedness and has appeared on the Discovery Channel’s Doomsday Bunkers, further increasing his visibility.
Lehman’s Non-Electric Hardware was founded in 1955 to meet the needs of Amish farmers in Ohio. Today, they serve hunters, nostalgic homeowners, the self-sufficient, and of course preppers. The director of marketing, Glenda Lehman Ervin, was quoted as saying that folks who want to be able to have food, heat, light, and water in case of an emergency or power failure. Starting with Y2K, the store experienced an increase of customers concerned with national disaster preparedness. Besides offering the products, Lehman’s offers customer support that assists their buyers with getting the most out of their non-electric items.
Niches can be deeply powerful, whether you intend to market to them initially or not. The preppers niche is only one example of a way a business can focus on a smaller market segment and see tremendous success.
Is your business a niche business? Why or why not? Share in the comments!!
Are you looking for great content and help with overall content strategy? Take a look at my professional services and contact me today to begin!