Not everyone does back-to-school the same way. The homeschool revolution is real, with a growing number of families choosing to teach their children at home. In the past 10 years, according to the U.S. Department of Education, the number of homeschoolers has increased by 68 percent. If you’re not targeting your back-to-school messaging to these families, you’re leaving a lot on the table. In fact, school is always in session for many homeschoolers with different break schedules than traditional school programs. If your back-to-school marketing efforts are taking the summer off, you're missing out on benefiting from this niche's unique scheduling.
They’re buying pretty much the same supplies, but year-round and when isn’t it a good time to purchase new clothes for growing kids? Retailers offering anything relevant to traditional school families would do well to dream up offers speaking to the homeschool experience as well, specifically by offering sales during off-times/hours when those families are available to shop but others are not. Which is pretty much any time during the school year, while school is in session. Win-win.
Second-Hand and Artisan Shoppers
The DIY-ers and vintage lovers are two growing segments of the luxury goods audience. People purchasing from eBay or Etsy, two of the most popular shopping sites, are looking for a good deal but that doesn’t mean they don’t want nice things. The consumers making eBay one of the most trafficked sites are also the ones buying luxury goods like Apple Watches, designer handbags and kitschy custom furniture offering an array of “have it your way” options.
Charlene Lawson Brown of Tiny Lions Designs challenges customers to “bring us your ideas, your wants, desires, and needs for home decor and furnishings. If you can dream it, we can build it!” People shopping on Etsy and elsewhere appreciate such one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted items, and high on their list of desirables is quality. That quality isn’t cheap. So luxury retail brands discounting these consumers in their marketing, for example, are making a potentially costly mistake.
The Gaming Community
Don’t assume old-fashioned gender norms and demographics apply here. It’s 2016 and an open mind is the only way to find new audiences. Gamers are tech savvy and interested in pop culture and many of them are women. If you're only talking to the stereotypical male "geek" crowd, you're missing out on and probably alienating an entire gender interested in your brand.
If you’re a fashion or lifestyle brand the young, diverse, and ready-to-spend gaming community is worth exploring. You’ll need to be culturally relevant, but social media turns that learning curve into a slight bump if you’re watchful.
Connecting Authentically With Niches and All Audiences
If you haven't connected with the audiences above, and other niches gaining popularity in modern culture, it may not be that you don't care about them. It's possible you don't realize they are your audience or a segment of it. Finding and engaging these unlikely audiences requires the right tools and an understanding of how to maximize their application.
If you think you have an audience segment to work with, social listening platforms are the only way to test and see:
"Consider a 30-something, stay-at-home mom from Detroit, a 20-something tech entrepreneur in San Francisco, and a retired golfer in Tampa. Under old models, you would never have grouped them together. But social insights show you they’re all Harley Davidson enthusiasts and voila! You have a new segment to engage."
With hard data from social tools, you can spot new trends and new audiences worth exploring. Niche markets are specific and small, yes – but that’s what makes them all the more likely to engage with a creative message targeted at them when they see it. So gather some social data and go for it. Your brand and your new audience will be pleasantly surprised.
This post originally appeared at business.com.