The real challenge in starting a merch store or t-shirt business is finding a profitable niche – one that has enough people you can sell to but isn’t too saturated with competitors.
This is the standard practice especially for those who are just starting out and haven’t fully figured out how to succeed in this business.
While most of those who are new to the idea of merch selling may opt for a niche that they are deeply inclined with, only a few found success going down that road.
This is not to say that selling what you’re passionate about won’t work, however, it has to have a real demand in the real world.
What you may be passionate about may not have enough audience to rake in some good profit.
You still need to do extensive research.
It can be a trial and error process, but if you want to expedite your success, finding the right niche to tip your toes in is the key!
How to search for niche markets
Everything usually revolves around a theme or niche and it’s no different selling t-shirts.
It goes without saying that finding a profitable niche in Merch by Amazon is crucial for every t-shirt business.
By doing so you avoid spreading your resources too thin and fighting over market dominance against more competitors that you’re capable of handling.
Focusing all your efforts on a single niche is the safest approach especially if you’re just starting out.
1. Narrow down a high-level or general niche
High-level niches are a good place to start.
These niches are broad and have the potential to be narrowed down further.
You can start by identifying a general niche then drill it down from there. Here’s an example based on the popular niches in 2021.
- Weight loss
- Dogs (specific breeds)
- Hip Hop
- Diseases like cancer
- Electric cars
- Ball games
- Video games
2. Explore more specific categories under the sub-niches
Type in “Wikipedialist of (niche you want to cover)” in order to get a good list of more specific niches.
An example of this would be “Wikipedialist of finance” which would give you results like the following:
- Corporate finance
- Personal finance
- Public finance
- Financial mathematics
- Financial economics
- Behavioral finance
- Experimental finance
This will allow the business to pick a more specific niche for the topic.
Let’s say the business wants to create statement tees, picking out a specific niche will help give a more defined message.
For example, if you want to write about “public finance,” you could go for a statement tee like “Let’s Get Over Poverty Together” while if you choose to make a statement tee for “personal finance” you might make a statement tee like “I work. I save. I invest. I grow. I retire.”
Now, there’s a more structured way to search for the right niche.
3. Look for niches with unsupplied products
Let’s say you search for “hobbies” and pick the “collection hobbies” niche.
You can then search further on for the “magnet fishing” hobby.
You can then go further and do a Product Search for “magnet fishing” and check the results online.
If you see that the keyword is undersupplied, this could be a potential niche to penetrate since the competition could be low.
Of course, you’ll have to search if the demand is high. In order to do so, check for how hot the keyword is online.
You’ll be able to repeat this process looking for niches that are undersupplied but are still heavily in demand.
The ideal market is one that’s hot but there isn’t anything supplying the specific market yet.
Checking social media also helps.
Usually, the questions that pop up on google are really helpful.
An example of this is looking at Twitter to find out what’s hot.
Let’s say a movie is set to come out like the Dune movie and you can’t find shirts anywhere, maybe you should prepare in advance if you know it’s going to be a hit?
How to build a business around a niche
Once you know what niche is undersupplied but does have a good market, it’s time to enter the game.
Either you can supply what the market is missing or predict what the market will want next.
- For example, it’s almost the NBA playoffs and you know which teams are fighting next, you could potentially produce shirts in advance!
- Another example is catering to a niche that just lacks supply. For example, there’s a group that’s really into Dogecoin but they lack merch, maybe it’s time to step in and supply them!
Either present or future, there are markets that are undersupplied at the moment.
Undersupplied doesn’t have to mean that there is nothing in the market that supplies to the demand.
It could just mean that the competition isn’t that fierce at the moment.
If the competition has good potential but can be a bit competitive, the business’ products would need to stand out.
How to profit from the niche
Profiting from the niche can be hard.
There are a lot of startups that seem to do “everything right” but still fail.
How is that possible?
It’s because when supplying a niche, branding is very important.
The business has to be able to brand itself in a way that shows strong consistency with the niche.
Although being flexible is perfectly fine, it is still important to be consistent.
You can’t make a pet brand that sells punk rock shirts.
Once you build a strong brand with the right amount of flexibility, you’ll be able to target the right niche market and their acceptability of the product will increase.
Branding is important since it will allow the company to properly market its product.
Once the brand and the product are in sync for the specific niche, the marketing will look right.
Although the best marketing techniques are usually capable of marketing even those brands that don’t always make sense, they work better if the brand itself is good on its own.
Products speak for themselves but for the market to notice them, it is important to not only design them but also market them properly.
One way is by using the right keywords specific to the niche market that you are trying to target.
With the right keywords, the right marketing, the right branding, and the right product, targeting a niche market would be much easier compared to shooting around in the dark.