does niche marketing bring us closer to our inner self?

March 19, 2010

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What’s better than making money doing something you love? Baking red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese filling, sewing tote bags out of recycled materials, building dog caskets for dog lovers, monks refilling soy ink cartridges as a way of serenity … the list goes on.

Since the downshifting of the global economy a couple of years ago, you probably know a few people who have been laid off. But where did they go? Maybe some of them are lining up at the unemployment office looking for jobs. But for some creative people, this is a time of opportunity to transform their business into something they have always dreamed of.

Change may not be so bad after all. Just a couple of days ago, I received a mysterious email from someone I didn’t know. Soon after I learned that this person is Baron Carr, former vice president at JPMorgan, Allianz and most recently head of marketing at Carlson Hotels Worldwide. He was looking for a designer to redesign his website for his new niche business. Baron explained that he felt unsatisfied in his previous position (even as a top executive) as time went on, so he resigned and started the b.carr group – helping people realize and reach their true potential through the practice of yoga.

Fascinating ideas. First you learned your neighbor is blogging about her favorite apple pie recipes, next thing you know she is making money by delivering pies to everyone’s door in the neighborhood. Now there are niche branding companies helping individuals like the pie lady to brand herself and her pies through yoga — I told you the list really goes on, right?

But what does that mean in the design world? As a designer now, it’s important to think about not only making something new for the sake of making something new, but making something that really serves its full purpose in this already polluted world. Maybe designers can be our philosophers or policy makers in the future. Is that a niche?

Does change and niche marketing bring us closer to our inner self ? I might have to stir up this conversation when I meet with Baron over some yoga moves.

I recommend you see two films: objectified and (coming soon) lemonade.