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In Your Place

How to tell if your start-up idea is based on a niche, a trend or just a fad that will fizzle

This story appears in the October 2003 issue of Start Up.

Starting a niche business--one focusing on a small, underserved piece of a market--is often key to entrepreneurial success. But how do you identify your niche? Here are some terms to understand:

  • A niche market is a well-defined, enduring market segment with common characteristics and specific needs; it is always present, but often overlooked and underserved. Niches are consistent: They grow, and if they fade, they fade slowly. An example is snacks packaged for airlines.
  • A fad market is created by popularity that rises rapidly in a short time and fades, either quickly or slowly (think Pokemon). A fad market may disappear or remain in existence, but it declines in size to a small fraction of its popularity apex.

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