October 2012

Lisa Kind - Editor

Esthetic Endeavors | by Judith Culp

How do you Find Your Niche?

By Guest Writer Charlene Rodrigues

What is a niche? As defined by Merriam Webster: a specialized market or having a unique product or service to market.

One great example of a niche, is Apple's "ease of use" of the MacIntosh computer; the iPOD to download music, and the iPHONE and iPAD.

In Apple's turbulent years, Steve Jobs returned to Apple and brought the company to be one of the most profitable manufacturing companies ever. His brilliance was to capitalize on a product, such as iTunes, during the times when downloading free music was illegal and to make it legal by selling tunes for $1.00 to download for people on their own iPOD, just as MP3 players were selling like hotcakes.

Then, what came next: why not have those features on an iPhone, and then an iPad? All one stop shopping functions in one product.

How do you find your niche? Should you consider offering a specialized service versus full service? Or develop a plan of how to break into the men's market? Analyze what it means to you to have a niche in the beauty industry.

During a depressed economy, it's crucial to evaluate your business plan on a monthly basis and to assess and evaluate how to bring in more clients for a specialized service that will be attractive and affordable for your clients.

For example, you can add a 30-minute lunch time special, such as mini-facials, whether it's an enzyme, peel or microdermabrasion. Promotion of these services will mean retention of clients for you and help your clients on a budget fulfill results of meeting their skin care goals.

The men's grooming business is one of the fastest growing markets. Adding male-friendly treatments to your service menu, such as back waxing or a new take on happy hour by offering beverages with their service will help.

You can also start carrying retail of shaving products, along with anti-aging products, acne and brightening products to attract the male clientele.

A Chicago-based research firm Mintel forecasts that sales of men's toiletries will hit $3.2 billion by 2016, up from an estimated $2.6 billion this year. According to latest Mintel research, 72 percent of women and 52 percent of men have used professional care services.

It is interesting to note that 25 percent of the men in the 18 to 34 year old group admitted to having a manicure or pedicure.

38 percent of that same group has had a facial or body treatment compared to only 15 percent of men 55 and older.

While male-oriented treatments are not as beauty focused as women's treatments, Mintel research suggests a growing trend among the male population to look clean and groomed. 

Entrepreneur Magazine printed an article about growing a business through the identification of niche demographics. (www.entrepreneur.com/article/173224) The emphasis of this article was to do your research and homework to start reaching out to the male market.

When Tiffani Kim noticed female customers of Tiffani Kim Institute Medical.Spa bringing in husbands and boyfriends, she started reaching out to the male market. After renaming men's manicure/pedicure treatments "sports buffs," instituting couples' nights to encourage women to introduce men to the Chicago spa and otherwise exploring the new demographic, Kim reported that a significant portion of the company's revenue now comes from men.

While it's easy and sensible to do as Kim did and change little more than the label affixed to new offerings, you might need to do more. Look at your pricing, associated services, promotional techniques and even distribution methods.

Targeting a niche in the beauty industry requires a strategy to research your target market, which is a key component to capitalize on a product or service. This process goes back to the first steps of the business plan, which sound simple, but you need to know what you are selling and who is the customer?

In the Advanced Master Esthetics Course at the NW Institute of Esthetics, Inc. in Eugene, Oregon, part of a final grade is to write a business plan that is taught through the Milady's Advanced Esthetic Business Planning/Career chapters. It follows the basic guidelines for business planning. These chapters help the students focus whether they want to become a facility owner or independent contractor. It provides guidance of what they want to specialize in, whether to become a make-up artist, as a brow arch specialist, or very proficient in waxing, offering advanced facial services, or even becoming an IPL technician, which is also taught at the school to provide hands-on services.

Regardless of what your niche will be in the beauty business it is important to be clear about what your business has to offer, identify the right target market for it and build a niche for yourself there.

Judith Culp, has been in the esthetics industry since 1980. She is the owner of NW Institute of Esthetics, Inc. and contributing editor for Miladys Standard Esthetics: Advanced and lead author of Esthetician's Guide to Client Safety & Wellness. For more information visit www.estheticsnw.com.