Niche to Mainstream: Industries Cracking the Mass Market

Companies around the world are looking for ways to crack the veil of authenticity and create aspiration within their target markets. From airlines to suitcase companies and more, the modern lifestyle brand encompasses the value systems and beliefs of their audience. 

What is even more interesting is when brands create authentic buzz to generate word of mouth interest. For millennials, 89% prefer to learn about a product through their friends or families rather than hard marketing materials. For the modern brand, getting the trust of a customer’s inner circle is becoming easier as brands evolve. 

Now, even niche traditional industries are opening up their brands to attract the younger, modern, mobile-first generation that values purpose and meaning. The list below represents industries that are seeing disruption through innovative companies and branding initiatives. 

1. E-Learning

E-learning is growing rapidly and is expected to surpass $325 billion by 2025. This includes everything from established institutions going digital, but more interestingly trade and niche digital schools hyper-focused on teaching applicable skills. Currently, there are schools dedicated to online marketing, programming, design, and even copywriting. The premise is simple: learn skills you can instantly apply.

For some entrepreneurs, this opportunity represents a threat to traditional education. Pete Sena, the founder of digital consultancy Digital Surgeons, explains, “The ability to learn is no longer a nice-to-have skill, it is a key to survival. The jobs of the future don’t exist yet which means that static learning models are broken. They aren’t just flawed, they are broken and it requires a growth mindset and different playbook to survive and thrive in the post-digital experience economy.” 

2. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence has grown to become a very common buzzword that is also backed by incredible use cases. According to Gartner, by 2021 over 80% of emerging technologies will have AI foundations. AI is already being applied to art, media, technology, fin-tech, and more. The result is more tailored products and services that consumers are excited about. 

Marius Ziubka, CEO of the Bitsonar asset management describes the impact of AI and globalism as key factors in this shift. Ziubka states, “Artificial intelligence is an incredible technology that needs space and enough freedom to develop. The shifts we see in modern finance and fin-tech is a prime example of consumer demand meeting innovation.” 

3. Bespoke Fashion 

The era of fast fashion is slowly fading out as consumers become more socially conscious and appreciative of quality. The tradeoff for bespoke fashion is, of course, the higher price tag, but consumers walk away with something unique that was literally made for them. The movement away from price sensitivity is a radical shift that is expected to continue in the future.

A good example is Idrese which was started in the US by Jawad Malik to bring handmade Spanish shoes to the world. From 3D shoe creation and customization, each pair is specifically made with the customer in mind. Malik explains, “We want people to have a product that not only lasts a long time, but that can be restored and worn again while keeping its beauty. Our MTO process is a sustainable method and one that resonates with conscious consumers.”

Other innovations in the fashion industry include fashion discovery apps and rewards systems. CURATE has built just this and added a blockchain element by providing shoppers with Bitcoin and other digital assets back for every purchase. Their platform is decentralized and helps users provide their feedback on a curated collection of fashion styles that the community can trust.

4. Influencer Marketing

By 2022, brands will be spending nearly $15 billion on influencer marketing. It’s no secret why. Influencer marketing is one of the most authentic ways of connecting a brand and audience. The best part is influencer marketing is not limited by industry or geography. 

For millennials, this is an opportunity to bond with industries that may have been seen as niche in previous years. For example, Instagram influencer Shawn Sharma has built a loyal following of over 500,000 people by helping young people fix their credit and educating them on personal finance. Thanks to Sharma’s efforts, personal credit is now becoming cool for millennials. 

On the company side, tech companies like RON are helping micro-influencers find brands that are looking for a personal and niche touch. Based in Japan, RON guides influencers through a transparent and easy booking process that is fair for all parties, even first-time influencers. CEO Yasuo Tanaka and founder Atsushi Hisatsumi describe the model as giving “an opportunity to everyone to become influencers, even if just starting out.” 

5. Innovative Financial Services

The financial services industry has made an increasing effort to create new niche products that resonate with consumers. Goldman Sachs launched Marcus and companies like RobinHood allow millennials to buy financial products with the click of a button. More innovative startups like Raise offer crowdfunded loans that promote financial inclusion within underserved markets while providing safe and competitive returns for lenders. 

As the world becomes more global, access to banking and banking services is becoming more in demand. There are still challenges depending on a company’s jurisdiction and desired country of banking, but niche banking providers are helping solve this. For example, in Europe a company called BankApply has built a software-powered matching engine that simplifies opening a bank account, something that was a major pain point for entrepreneurs prior. 

Another company, Centric, is reshaping digital currency by launching a blockchain-based payment network composed of two distinct tokens which promote stability, an incentive structure for early adopters, and store of value. The exchange between the two tokens is governed by a decentralized smart contract and a self-regulating protocol.

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