Can Extremely Niche Brands Survive in Today’s Market?

by Matt Weik

I was reading an article about a brand who came to market with a multivitamin product specifically for first responder’s. I thought it was pretty interesting and this article brought up the question if these extremely niche brands could survive in the long-term. While I understand their positioning with the brand and what they are trying to accomplish, is the specific niche these brands are going after big enough to sustain their business?

Niche Brands Long-Term Survival

The brand I’m referring to in the opening is Thin Fit Line. The brand launched a Heroes Pack that they call an “advanced vitamin pack” that also contains phytonutrients to improve the overall health and nutrition of first responders. Their product if you were to compare it something would be similar to an Animal Pak for those who are familiar with that product.

The owner was quoted saying, “Our main focus is giving the first responders something they can be proud of and something that will be helping them in their day to day lives to stay healthy.” He talked about the stress put on first responders and their long hours. He also brought up their poor nutritional habits due to their job. Which is a totally different topic that should probably be focused on.

But is this enough to sustain their business? I appreciate that the owner of Thin Fit Line is targeting the first responder market but niche brands such as this one have a much smaller overall demographic than what we are used to seeing in the sports nutrition realm. I simply don’t see niche brands surviving. That’s not to say their products aren’t good, it’s just when looking for products online or in store, it’s the mass appeal that sells. Brands who do well are more mainstream in their marketing and positioning rather than shrinking their customer base due to targeting a smaller demographic like first responders.

One thing to touch on that was brought up earlier is first responders nutrition. While taking in vital micronutrients is important, overall nutrition cannot be pushed to the side. A multivitamin product is great, but it’s not a solution to the bigger picture. The fact that first responders don’t eat properly, in my opinion, is a bigger topic than a push for a multivitamin. And by thinning out potential users, you’re severely limiting your growth potential. You would need to go out and market towards first responders specifically versus hitting all households across the nation with a quality multivitamin.

Sure, the everyday civilian can use this product, but they would need to look for this product specifically to even know it exists. A simple Google search for a multivitamin will never have this product show up on the first five pages. And when consumers do find the multivitamin, the marketing and positioning surrounding the product could cause them to think it won’t fit their individual wants and needs. Again, for this reason, I don’t see niche brands staying in business for very long. The only way they would stay in business is if they spend a ton of money to market towards their niche, secure that piece of the market and steal all the market share, and then market hard to the general public with a storyline about how if it’s good enough for our first responders, it’s good enough for you.

Additionally, in the case of Thin Fit Line, having only one product also limits your potential growth. It makes sense to not launch a full line when initially starting a business, but as soon as you gain traction you better be prepared to expand your offerings.

Look at Others Who Have Made It

When you look at extremely niche brands, there are very few and they seem to have a here today gone tomorrow presence. Why is this? It’s simple, for all of the reasons I already stated above. Pricing also plays a huge part in the overall success of a brand.

In the case of Thin Fit Line, they claim a month supply of their multivitamin ranges from $29 to $40. When you compare this to other multivitamins on the market, the pricing is fairly high. This is probably due to small batch orders for manufacturing and not having the buying power when compared to bigger brands. This limiting factor can cause many niche brands to fold or to work off of extremely small margins just to get off the ground in hopes that their buying power will improve and they can get their costs down per run.

Let’s close this up. Bottom line, I don’t see niche brands surviving. While they serve a purpose and cater to their niche, it’s simply not enough in my opinion. These brands need to figure out how to leverage their brand to reach a broader audience and build a community around their brand. They need a good brand story and identity that will appeal to the masses.

Narrowing your reach simply isn’t going to cut it in today’s market. If these niche brands are direct to consumer and have no distribution network, they are counting on traffic from their website to drive sales. In a very saturated sports nutrition market, this is going to be difficult unless you can reach out to every fire station, police station, and emergency personnel across the nation to get your name out there, offer samples, and put together some type of deal for them.

While I wish Thin Fit Line as well as all niche brands the best of luck but I simply don’t see long-term success in their future. What are your thoughts on extremely niche brands? Will they make it or will they fail? Let me know in the comments.

Source: NutraIngredients USA