Time was that not too long ago, if you made hand crafted artisanal cheeses, you were doing it for the love of dairy and probably not living large from the profits. A shift in public interest, though, coupled with new means of advertising and getting products to consumers means that new niches are popping up with incredible success rates, and passion projects don’t have to remain labors of love anymore.
While some niches will always be profitable, like dating, moneymaking, Cleveland title loans, and weight loss, others are just starting to come into their own, and they’re bringing big bucks with them. Here’s a look at a few niche industries on the rise, and the companies that have made bank off of them.
The “Sharing” Industry
Ridesharing, homesharing, even boatsharing – if there’s something you have that may be of short-term use to others, chances are there’s a tech company making money off it right now. Companies like Uber and Airbnb target audiences looking for a very specific thing by using mass appeal.
Sharing, as a whole, is often branded as more affordable, more ecologically and economically mindful, and more immersive for consumers than the traditional alternatives. After all, why would you pay $300 a night for a hotel in Buenos Aires when you can spend $70 a night to stay in house in an up and coming neighborhood and get the added bonus of spending a few days with a host that knows the city inside and out? And hey – why not make some extra cash and meet people from all over the world by renting out that spare bedroom on the weekends?
Resource sharing companies appeal simultaneously to the desire to save money with the desire to make money, and that has them flushed. Airbnb is poised to cross the half billion revenue mark in 2015, and even when posting a net loss while spending to grow the brand, Uber’s paper valuation is around the $50 billion mark.
It looks like it really does pay to share.
Craft Food and Beverage
That artisanal cheese maker reference wasn’t tongue-in-cheek – it pays to be passionate about what you’re doing. The cheese thing doesn’t have all the numbers behind it, but the industry as a whole sure does.
Take a look at craft beer if you want to get an idea of how things are going. According to the Brewers Association, America had 50 breweries in 1980. As of 2012, they were reporting over 2,000, with the whole craft sector grossing over $10 billion a year. In 2012, the Boston Beer Company (the minds behind Sam Adams) brought in $580.2 million, while the opening of Lagunitas Brewing Company’s Chicago facility rocketed it to the 5th largest brewer in America, pushing out 500,000 barrels annually from the new facility.
As for the craft food segment, look at the ever-expanding Whole Food empire, purveyor of everything local, fair trade, organic, raw, or otherwise special. Their 2014 annual report shows sales growing to $14.2 billion across its 399 store chain.
Personal Health and Fitness
Like I said, weight loss and fitness will always be a profitable industry, and the same way that trainers were bringing in students by the handful with jazzercise classes in the 80’s, brands that focus on exercise trends including yoga and crossfit are making money today.
There’s no secret behind the industry’s appeal – look better, live longer. What these companies are doing that’s making them so successful is that they’re promising a new means of accomplishing these goals that go beyond the typical fitness model.
Both promise not only physical but mental changes that will impact practitioners for a lifetime. Yoga holds a spiritual lilt while CrossFit appeals to the work-hard play-hard mentality that’s emanated throughout young America.
If history is any indicator, these will go the same way as jazzercise and all other fitness trends eventually, but for now, they’re shaping up their profits faster than they’re shaping up their clients.
Not surprisingly, with more and more home-grown entrepreneurs using increased connectivity and accessibility to turn their passion into profit, finding people who can understand and market in the industry is becoming increasingly more valuable.
Digital advertising, as an industry, is predicted to reach $185.4 billion by 2017, with marketers finding newer, increasingly more clever ways to organically sell to people and build brand recognition.
As traditional marketing strategies have tapered in impact, companies are shelling out more than ever to reach their target audience and get their brand known. Marketing companies like Showroom Logic and Ad Karma that can do that for them have nothing to worry about when it comes to cash flow or work availability.