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  • Jennifer Marks

Niche and Tuck

Niche markets can be hard to discern amidst the kaleidoscopic demographics of the American population. Help comes from the Fashion Institute of Technology's seniors in the home program, who have uncovered some new groups, such as the growing cohort of young Americans with family roots in India, and the rising class of Chuppies, relatively free-spending Chinese urban middle-class singles.

Here is a look at a few of the FIT findings:

Hybrid Nation: Hybrid automobile owners who make a statement by buying environmentally friendly products. This group (40 to 60 years old) sports household incomes from $80K to $100K. Money quote: “The market is growing beyond the traditional 'tree hugger' environmentalist, and as the next generation of larger and more mainstream hybrids emphasize luxury, high-tech wizardry, and/or power — rather than ecological benefits — the demographic profile of a hybrid driver will shift accordingly.” Observation: Good news for manufacturers who are working on sheets and towels employing renewable resources.

Urban Puppy Parents: Childless, upscale, urban canine owner. Population is largely female (85 percent), with household income from $45K to $75K. Money quote: “This niche market is made up consumers (who) worship conspicuous consumption for their canines.” Observation: No wonder so many home textiles suppliers have quietly entered the dog bed business.

Suburban Gays: Homosexual people who are migrating from the city to the suburbs. Age from 23 to 42 years old, with a median household income of $56K. Money quote: “Gay males in suburban towns are huge online shoppers and love to purchase Asian-style home décor…the products they love are goods from West Elm, Pier 1 and Ikea.” Observation: Niche marketing efforts directed at this group should focus on entertaining and acknowledge that they inter-mingle regularly with their hetero neighbors.

The American Cougar: A confident, independent, professional older woman who acts, dresses and beds young, embracing youthful products and anti-aging techniques. Nearly all are divorced, aged late 30s to early 50s, household income $60K to $90K. Money quote: “The Cougar entertains at home often, so her home is filled with stylish and current furniture and furnishings.” Observation: For the suppliers who have been experimenting with towels and sheets imbued with skin-renewing properties, it's time to buy a mailing list and target this consumer directly.

Whatever your niche, I wish you each and all a Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a bright and bountiful New Year.

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