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Niche: The missing middle and why business needs to specialise to survive Paperback – 2 Aug 2012

3.9 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus (2 Aug. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349123004
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349123004
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 1.6 x 23.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 856,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book Description

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 Wolff

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Every now and again a book comes along that makes me question why I read so many business books and this is such a book.

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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If any retailer were still in any doubt that specialism, working out what you are and being great at that thing, is the only hope for bricks and mortar retailing then this brilliant book should wipe that out at a stroke. Harkin makes the case for specialism, authenticity, originality and daring communication in a superbly readable and instantly credible fashion.

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.
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Format: Paperback
If you have read books such as Tipping Point, No Logo, Tribes, The Long Tail and Microtrends, you will learn nothing from this book. I found Niche to be an amalgamation of these books and similar titles, as well as some light weight interviews, business case studies and some ridiculous comparisons (the "success" of a small motorcycle store versus the "failure" of GAP in the closing chapters).

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.

Cheers
Fintan
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Received the book in pristine condition and quite quickly. Although it was supposed to have been almost new it looked like whoever had it before me either had not read it or had a reverance for its contents.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
Had you ever hear of singer songwriter Charlotte Manning or the group Mumford and sons before they scooped Brits awards last year? How did such little known artists break through and triumph over other music acts that were supported by well-financed PR machines? James Harkin in his book 'Niche' would argue it was precisely because these music acts had niche appeal; that was carefully delineated via the Internet and social networking websites, and became a key ingredient in their success. Harkins book is not overly concerned with the fate of the music industry and makes a wider more critical view of the trends in contemporary consumer society. James Harkin foregrounds the argument that until recently large companies dominated the centre ground of mainstream culture. The growth of companies such General Motors and Woolworth's during the 40s, 50s and 60s demonstrated how the 'middle ground' culture that was so popular in these decades was dominant.
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 ›
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