Patrick Starr Targets Niche Audience in Over-Crowded Beauty Space

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Identify a niche. Leverage a niche. Dominate a niche. This is proverbial advice for startups looking to differentiate themselves. In a digital landscape that is rife with competitive saturation, entering a new market can be challenging for brands without a clearly defined target audience. A lack of uniqueness presents the risk of being forgotten. As such, operating in a niche is increasingly popularized as the solution for startups to consolidate a point of difference.

The reality is that despite wanting to find a niche, the process for effectively doing so seems elusive.

Recently I sat down with an internet influencer, who has amassed a global following through intentional niche marketing, to discuss the actionable steps to help Australian startups bridge this disconnect.

Starrr power

Patrick Starrr is known for his instructional videos in the beauty industry and has an online community of over 7 million followers across his social media accounts. In addition to its reach, what is telling about Starrr’s brand is its ability to cut through a seemingly saturated industry. The cosmetics industry was projected to earn $62 billion in 2016 and the beauty industry was ranked fourth for the most reach of influencers in the United States in 2014.

These characteristics are connotative of a market steeped in competition, which is a situation that local startups can empathize.

However, according to Starrr, a seemingly over-crowded space can signal a niche market opportunity given the right differentiation strategy.

After recently traveling to Australia, he encouraged local companies to position themselves with unpredictable characteristics to stand out. In the make-up industry, he was able to contradict conventional expectations as a way to create uniqueness.

"My content isn’t just informative...my content is entertaining. I am able to entertain and educate at the same time… I wanted to use a platform like YouTube to exemplify diversity to the masses."

This approach is telling to unpack and signals a strategy from which local startups can take note.

Breaking the mold

Starrr was able to position his content in a way the cosmetics industry was not widely accustomed.  By combining humor with education and communicating it through the lens of a male personality, in a "space dominated by women”, he was able to identify a niche.

The audience took notice of his brand because it was different from the majority.

It seems an offering is as unique as the market expectations to which it is compared.

Novelty, as such, appears relative.

For Australian startups, this reframes the emphasis from focussing on industries without competitors to identifying marketing strategies independent from competitors.  The threat of perceived saturation appears mitigable insofar as a company can position itself with uniqueness, a uniqueness Starrr posits is predicated on situational originality.

This is reminiscent of the psychology of contrast and consumer attention. Evolutionarily speaking, consumers are predisposed to pay attention to novel stimuli. It relates to the learned survival benefits of evaluating a new environment. The human brain orients attention to determine whether unfamiliar objects are dangerous, exciting or useful. This same psychological wiring applies when startups market to consumers. When content is different, content is seen.

Christian Oestlien, director of product management at YouTube, speaks during the introduction of YouTube TV at YouTube Space LA in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

The niche effect

Similar to how Starrr was able to stand out in the make-up industry, startups will benefit from marketing their offering in a way that not expected by their audience. Content that contradicts a market’s norm encourages audiences to pay attention because, psychologically, its seen as different.

This applies on a macro-scale as well.

Industries with a gluttony of competitors represent homeostatic markets because offerings tend to be similar.  These are markets defined by consistency.  Startups, therefore, who market themselves as a psychological trip-wire can be recognized as novel.

This uniqueness cuts through the noise of competition and signals a market niche.

However, in addition to differentiation, Starrr emphasized that for local startups to effectively dominate a niche, they would benefit from multi-channel amplification as well. He was bullish on the landscape of Australia’s eco-system but suggested that to properly capitalize, local companies needed to invest in the currency of online followings.

"Having a digital influence is integral to starting a brand. You are able to directly target an audience specific to products you want to sell. In regards to content creation, you will be able to have more creative freedom of speech and visual speech as well.… [Startups should] use all social media platforms.  Utilize all platforms to grow and build [your] network."

It appears that identifying a niche is only the first step. After capturing audience attention, startups are encouraged to prioritize scalability and exposure through an online community to consolidate market traction. This traction comes off the back of offering value contrary to the majority.

Startups should disqualify perceived saturation and competition as barriers to entry.  Instead, they should recognize that novelty and differentiation are relative to market expectations.

Value that is unexpected is value that is unique.

And ultimately, successful niches are built off unique value.

Original article: www.forbes.com

Written by: James Nguyen

InsightsShana Grossman