Question: I want to start a business, but I’m looking for a business idea that addresses a gap in the market place. Where and how do I find that gap and spot that new niche for my startup business? – Fred S. (Bangor, Maine)
There really are no secret recipes for finding gaps in the market. Otherwise, everyone will start filling up these niches until there are no gaps.
Observation is the key factor.
Start by looking at yourself. Look at the things and products that you use right now. What products do you find you need but cannot find in the market? Or the products may exist, but you don’t think they do a good job based on what you really need.
For example, Spanx was invented when Sara Blakely was frustrated with visible panty lines that show under light colored pants and stockings that precluded her from wearing open-toed sandal. She wanted body shaping pantyhose that she could wear with pants and sandals. Now, Spanx is a multimillion dollar business.
Talk to other people. Ask them what they need, what they’ve been trying to look for but cannot find a satisfactory product to fulfill their need.
Many inventions came from observation and learning from other people. If people are looking for it, and they cannot find it, then that’s an opportunity waiting to be tapped in the marketplace.
In the 1970s, for example, package tour companies found a segment of the public who didn’t want to organize all of their holidays, but who disliked the regimentation of package tours. They looked at what they could offer, and came up with villa holidays where their traveler guests could live in villas and immerse themselves in the culture of the place.
Another way to identify niches that the market needs is to find out what customers of existing businesses want, but is not being addressed. You could be the customer who always gets frustrated by the company’s inability to address your needs. Or you could be the business owner, who gets to identify markets you never previously ventured into, but appears to be something where ample demand exists.
It’s not easy to spot market gaps and niches, but you simply have to look hard and keep your ears on what customers want.