We have more choice today than at any point in human history. No longer do you find yourself restricted to a short list of options when looking to buy a piece of jewellery, a car, or even choosing a sexual partner. The number of options is seemingly infinite.
The variety of ‘things’ we can now choose from has exploded in recent years, thanks to our connected living. It is with this explosion that we have seen the rise of the microbrand.
Think of the various new watch brands popping up on your Facebook feed, Instagram, or even on your email and SMS. Those are microbrands.
How do we define a microbrand?
Microbrands are small businesses, comprising only a few people, with well-designed and manufactured products, specifically targeting people who fall within their hyper-defined audience. Microbrands typically also own the entire business vertical, by filling the roles of designer, manufacturer, retailer and guarantor for their products. They either design and manufacture their product themselves, or have them manufactured to exacting, precise standards. Most of the time, they elect the latter option.
Microbrands typically employ an agile decision-making process, a just-in-time methodology for product development, and prefer to communicate directly with their customers, through multiple channels in more casual ways. They treat their customers like personal acquaintances and make use of informal, “loosey-goosey” vocabulary, avoiding jargon, technical terms and complex language.
The microbrand wants its customers to have a pleasant, comfortable experience, and genuinely love the products they produce.
Historically, microbrands have chosen very specific niche products, like bespoke granola cereals for example. They didn’t cater to all cereal lovers everywhere – they only catered to health-conscious, granola cereal lovers.
Other examples include customised gym wear for ladies, or handmade neo-jewellery for aspiring female models. Typically, these brands have established themselves to serve and own their target audience.
What has triggered this explosion of microbrands?
The fuse was lit by the connected nature of the world, spurred on by Internet access and social media connectivity. We can now access any piece of information we want, and find that bespoke granola cereal whenever we want. We can engage with people and businesses on an unprecedented scale, and we can understand most of what a business is, or who certain people are, in a matter of seconds.
Couple that with our desire to be our own individuals with specific likes, interests and experiences, and opportunity is created. This type of opportunity is typically ignored by the big box brands, because they view those niches as too small or expensive, or too difficult to act upon. This means the microbrands are eating the bigger brands for lunch, one tiny mouthful at a time!
Where to for the microbrand?
More recently, we’ve seen a shift – microbrands have been getting bolder and expanding their product lines into more traditional product categories. In the case of the bespoke granola cereal microbrand, they would offer their customers things like corn flakes, or a range of ‘uber chic milk’ products to complement their granola range. Microbrands are also doing this incredibly well because they have cultivated a customer base that loves their products. Furthermore, they’ve developed a fundamental thing within their customers that larger brands lack: trust.
In the world of the microbrand, complex wording, t’s and c’s and other jargon are dispensed with, and they make it simple for their customers to not only buy products from them, but to buy into their philosophy.
They make their customers believe in why they do what they are doing, which speaks to their customers in a much more primal way than ordinary marketing ever could. This has led to microbrands rapidly becoming bigger businesses.
No doubt, many microbrands will continue to expand, selling more products and effectively communicating with their customers. The real question is whether, and how quickly, the bigger brands can catch up, and whether they will be able to compete with the now-established microbrands in similar ways.
Microbrands are shaping the future of commerce, one customer at a time, and that is ground-breaking for the entire market place.
So, the next time you’re looking for bespoke granola cereal to match your custom gym wear, just go online. You’re bound to get a better experience from a microbrand that is passionate about its products and passionate about serving you – hit that Google search and see what comes back. It may be the best thing you’ve ever bought, and you may trust that business more than you have ever trusted any business before. Or you can head to your local big box store, to pick up a mass-produced, cookie cutter product, where no one knows or cares about your name.