A Small Market Niche

What do Martin Sheen, Al Pacino, Mark Wahlberg, Danny DeVito, Joe Pesci, and Seth Green have in common? Well aside from being actors, they’re all under 5’8” tall and they’re all customers of Jimmy Au.

Au runs a clothing company in Hollywood that specialises in suits for shorter men. You might think that a suit for a shorter man is simply a smaller suit, but apparently not, and this is the key to the niche Au has carved out. Most designers create their suits for men in the 5’10” to 6’2” range and then simply scale down for smaller customers without adjusting the fit. This results in knees and elbows falling in the wrong place.

In a world where most products and designs are created for people within the average or normal range,  there must be niche opportunities in myriad markets for products specifically aimed at the tall, short, fat or slim.  Might there be an opportunity to create a product for people outside of the normal size range in your market?

Butlers Trousers

In the 19th Century, Butlers would often ‘break in’ their masters trousers for them so that they would never be seen wearing new trousers – and therefore never face the allegation that they were Nouveau Riche. That’s the inspiration behind ‘Butler Jeans’ an initiative developed by French fashion label APC.

If you have an old pair of APC Jeans, you can take them into the store and part exchange them for a brand new pair. Apparently, many customers prefer the ‘well worn look’ and so the company make any necessary repairs to the jeans, add the original owners initials and then sell them as Butlers Jeans.

The company benefit in a number of ways:

  1. They are more likely to sell new jeans because of the trade-in element.
  2. They have a new product range – Butlers Jeans
  3. It gets people talking – excellent PR.

Is there an opportunity to apply this idea to other businesses? I’m sure that there is. Might there be something in your product range which you could ‘buy back’ from your customer and garner the same benefits outlined above?

The Barter Parker

I recently read about a car parking lot in Argentina, which enables customers to pay for their parking with items they no longer need. The scheme, run by a guy called Ivan Caraganopulos, accepts any second hand items in return for parking. This simple bartering idea has proved very popular with drivers, and has developed into a profitable business.

I’m not suggesting that you rip the parking meter out of a UK car park and demand old tat by way of payment instead, but perhaps there’s a way that you can incorporate barter into your own business. Many people are cash-strapped these days but have old stuff they no longer need or want. If you can come up with a bartering system that works for you, you could find that you pull in a lot more customers and appeal to a whole new market.

The Barter Parker

I recently read about a car parking lot in Argentina, which enables customers to pay for their parking with items they no longer need. The scheme, run by a guy called Ivan Caraganopulos, accepts any second hand items in return for parking. This simple bartering idea has proved very popular with drivers, and has developed into a profitable business.

I’m not suggesting that you rip the parking meter out of a UK car park and demand old tat by way of payment instead, but perhaps there’s a way that you can incorporate barter into your own business. Many people are cash-strapped these days but have old stuff they no longer need or want. If you can come up with a bartering system that works for you, you could find that you pull in a lot more customers and appeal to a whole new market.

Off Plan – Think Carefully?

Just been reading an article in Homes & Property about the ‘vertical’ London property market. I’ll quote, ‘London’s vertical towers are creating their own landscape…more than 100 residential towers in London are either under construction or have planning consent.’

Continuing the quote, “This is London’s decade of towers”, says Stephen Miles-Brown, director of property consultant Knight Frank, which has published the Tall Towers report. “There is a pressing need for more efficient use of land, and reaching for the sky can be the best housing solution.”

There are two issues here if you are thinking of buying London high-rise; one, if it is off-plan, do be aware that it might not actually be built so you will want to be sure that, in this event, you can get your deposit back – a reminder, if it were needed, to do careful due diligence, use your own lawyer etc. As Homes & Property states, ‘Not all approved towers are guaranteed to be built. Developers are struggling to obtain bank funding.’ The second issue is a variation of ‘location, location, location’; we’d call it ‘level, level, level’; what are the do’s and don’t’s of buying into a tower? Level one or level 20, for instance?