Should you sell niche or mass market products?

So which is better?

Give me a sec to tell you a short story of how I got to Seattle.

I was born in Korea, but grew up in Australia. Finished my schooling and in my first job, the company was trying to break into the US market. They had an office in Redmond, WA (Microsoft territory) and asked if I wanted to move. This was in 2005.

Seeing as how I was recently out of school, no commitments, no money, I eagerly accepted.

Packed up and left my life in Australia in 5 days.

Interestingly enough, I’ve outlasted the original company I worked for. The boss closed up shop, but I’ve been here ever since.

But when I arrived in the US, it was supposed to be a joke, but there was a reality to it and I’ve always remembered it.

I was told that when you migrate to another country, it’s very important who picks you up at the airport.

Your path will follow whoever picks you up.

Most immigrant Koreans run a small Teriyaki restaurant or laundromat. The new person is introduced to the world of Teriyaki and laundries and before you know it, you are neck deep in the same thing.

Same with Amazon.

Depending on who you learn from, you’ll get some great advice, but also bad ones.

And if you don’t challenge or question advice, you may end up doing the same thing.

So which is it?

Niche or mass market?

We started off with a niche product because that’s where I am most comfortable. I was into long tail keywords, smaller markets and dominating it.

But now I hate it.

Niche Pros

  • Less competition
  • Cheaper to launch and learn

Niche Cons

  • Can’t grow. Limited ceiling.
  • A few extra sellers make it crowded

On the other hand, we stumbled on mass market products by unexpectedly. I had designed and created what I thought was going to be a nice niche product, but sales took off. In the first week, we were selling 100 units a day.

What we stumbled upon was to go after mass market products with niche features.
Don’t make the same old boring mass market products. Innovate a little and think about how it can be improved.

All products are simply improvements. They are rarely category creators, and so you are simply taking market share away from another seller.

A zero sum game.

Now, I shun niche products like bbq silicone gloves, garlic press, phone holders.

Mass Market Pros

  • More sales
  • More growth
  • More efficiency

Mass Market Cons

  • More competition and copycats
  • More planning, strategic thinking
  • More expensive

What’s your take?


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