Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Retail Issues 2

After yesterday's comment, Darren asked if "being a niche player the way forward?...The real money is in the mass market in the UK, the festival crowds, the cool campers, the family campers. The niche expert market just isn't that big over here, unlike say in the US where it is considerably bigger. So I'm not sure we will ever see a strong thriving specialist market in the UK, but more getting the scraps that make their way over from the US."

Hmm. Lets see. If everyone who bought Trail, TGO and Country Walking bought one item of lightweight kit, where would they get the items from? Probably not the high street. Would it still be a niche market? I don't think so.

But the year after, maybe, we'd start to see the weight of items being considered as a design feature. Lighter cars burn less fuel. Lighter bullets travel faster. Why is there such a disagreement about humans using lighter kit? I blame the Scouts. Years of "being prepared" by taking extra kit - but now, being prepared means having knowledge, attitude and decent kit. Little of it comes easy, and much takes time and effort. All part of an ongoing process.

We have only a few specialist lightweight retailers in the UK (with a bigger customer base in the US, I'd guess that there would be proportionately more retailers). I like buying from different stores as it supports different retailers. I liked Bellingham, and hope that there's another "Day Zero" event next year. For me, it would be the great outdoors show.

Niches survive in other industries. Niches get overlooked when markets fall. Niches have customer loyalty and good word of mouth. If you have the right profit-margin and know your market, what is wrong with being petite? Not everyone wants to be a "Famous Army Store" or "Millets".


WD said...

but the point is about the mag readership, they cater for different markets, with some over lap (for instance I get all three). Where as the combined circulation of those three mags in the UK maybe around the 100K mark (I have no idea if that is true btw, just plucked a figure out of the sky), in the US I heard once a few years back that the readership of the Backpacker magazine was over 200K. So there is a larger market place there to support these niche companies. Whilst in the UK the market place is smaller, so being niche is not a place to be to make lots of money. But as I said usually these niche players are enthusiasts themselves and are only in it to earn enough to pay the bills and do what they love. But for some they are in it for the main reason a lot of businesses exist and that is to make lots of money.
I think there is a point there somewhere.

AktoMan said...

I've replied above in Retail Issues 3

John Hee said...

mag ciculation figures


AktoMan said...

Thanks, John.

If every one bought one new item of kit from a niche retailer instead of a high street retailer, would it make a difference to the niche market? Would the high street retailers feel at a loss for losing one single sale per person?

At the moment, we seem to be in a time where the niche retailers aren't been seen by the mainstream. But I'm probably wrong in that.

Anyone from the "Adventure Show" or Countryfile/Landward been interviewing niche outdoors retailers? I've not seen, but I miss the last 2 progs which are on a Sunday morning.