Niche: The missing middle and why business needs to specialise to survive Paperback – 2 Aug 2012
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Niche is an eye-opening analysis of why big business has failed to sell to the mainstream, in the tradition of Chris Anderson's The Long Tail
From the Back Cover
'A fascinating book . . . Compelling . . . . The research is excellent' Management Today
There's a new rule in business: forget about the general audience and instead stake out an identifiable niche.
Woolworths suffered from a lack of identity and found that low quality and low price wasn't enough; General Motors crashed as motorists failed to distinguish between cars in their range. Yet HBO, Moleskine and specialist media like The Economist have all succeeded by building their authority over narrow areas of expertise and cultivating a passionate following - and their profits have mushroomed. Fascinating and thought-provoking, Niche is a superb examination of how innovation and profitability are moving to a series of tightly defined but globally scattered niches, bound together by the reach of the net.
'Fascinating stories, some big thoughts and an intriguing argument' Evan Davis
'Level-headed but optimistic, Niche is a business plan for the brain, and a manifesto for quality' Michael WolffSee all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
I began to read, eager to find out why the middle market has collapsed in many markets but the more I read, the more I despaired.
It's what I call intellectual claptrap and I am astonished at the positive reviews on Amazon. I read with a pencil in hand, ready to underline or asterisk anything that I wanted to note. I gave up at page 110 because I wasn't marking anything, other than a couple of companies I want to check out on customer profiling.
I suspect that there is an interesting book in there but as far as I'm concerned it is struggling to get out. I believe there are hidden persuaders which influence us, either intentionally or often unintentionally, and change society.
The book is wide ranging both in terms of topics covered and in history. In fact I think that's part of the problem. It moves around so quickly that it is difficult to follow the thread of the argument and I found jumping around the times to be extremely irritating. This is a book that I advise any pragmatic entrepreneur or small business owner who is looking to develop a niche to avoid.
Will I go back to the back? Maybe. In some ways I hate to leave a book unfinished but I've had more than enough of this book for the time being.
One thing I like very much is that wherever his case studies relate to examples we've all heard of--Woolworths, Gap or GM, for example--he is able to pull out detail, quotes or analysis you've not heard before. That's hugely valuable and contributes to an unusually high, and unusually entertaining, pace for a business book.
I'm a retailing consultant whose main task, right now, is to teach retailers that having a Big Idea--being something clear, specific, novel and attractive--is the absolutely the key to surviving and thriving in the modern marketplace. Harkin has stuffed me a bit because now I probably ought to just give clients a copy of Niche and save them my full fee!
Well played James, more please.
To me the author should have heeded his own advice and not gone "middle brow" with his book and provided a more detailed account of his time as a trend spotter or focussed on the UK (as the titles listed above are very US centric).
Also, the editor should not have allowed the far too frequent use of the phrase "big beasts" as after a while the excessive usage becomes ridiculous.
If you are new to the topic, this book could be considered a starting point, however, I feel you would do better with Tipping Point, No Logo and The Long Tail.
Lots of revelations about varying businesses. Was expecting something quite different on niche markets. Nonetheless an interesting book. Plenty of historical developments within different businesses.
Would have liked to have seen a more expansive chapter on how to grow a niche. A mention of the current economic situation and its impact on the home/online worker trying to find the elusive niche might have been another interesting topic. The market is saturated with internet marketers selling niche market solutions that don't necessarily work but make the so called "Gurus" a fortune.
Final assessment: capitivating snippets of information but felt that there could have been so much more.
I think the analogy to popular music is telling because according to James Harkin the every man appeal of these companies, and the fact that they provided 'something for everyone' played a key part in their decline. These giants of consumerism began to resemble fat bloated 1970's MOR super groups, who were blown away by the energy and eclectic cultural appeal of the punk movement. Rather like punk the phenomenon of 'Niche' has a grass roots quality, with audiences gravitating to products and cultural trends that have a clear and distinct appeal. (For example the fanatical fan groups that sprang up eulogising TV shows like the 'Wire' and the 'Sopranos').
With the rise of the Internet consumers can hone in on their choices for products and cultural experiences. A buzz is created and shared via social networking media.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great read - if you run a business you'll instantly recognise examples of where you got it just right, but probably didn't realise you were quite so clever at the time. Read morePublished on 13 Oct. 2012 by Mission to Mars
Breezily written, wry, well informed this is a really good read. It certainly got me thinking about how markets and marketing are working and may work in the future in a fresh... Read morePublished on 2 Aug. 2012 by Paul H. Clark
I am not a marketeer or sociologist. So I am not a great expert. The basic premise of this book was that the middle is disappearing - unless you can stack them high and sell them... Read morePublished on 30 April 2011 by Martin
Quite simply, a brilliant read - I read it in six hours. Lots of data, not boring like most dreary, self-promoting businessy tomes, fantastic stories I'd never heard before and... Read morePublished on 25 Mar. 2011 by M