Top 10 Growing Markets for Small Businesses (Part 2)

November 27, 2005 | By | Reply More

BACK TO PART 1: Top 10 Growing Markets for Small Businesses


6. Growing Number of Obese People.

There is an “obesity epidemic” in America as more and more Americans, both young and old, are becoming overweight and obese. According to the US Center for Disease Control, about 65 percent of adult Americans are overweight or obese, while an estimated 16 percent of children and adolescents’ ages 6–19 years are also overweight.

With the sheer number and continued growth of this population segment, opportunities abound for businesses that may want to cater to the overweight or obese people. Some of these businesses may include products or services that can help them improve their quality of life and mobility. Businesses can also provide dietary products and services that may help this group control their food intake and lose weight. How about a service offering party packages consisting of healthy treats for an obese child to replace those yummy goodies traditionally part of birthday celebrations (e.g. cakes, ice cream, pizza, etc.)? Plus-sized apparel, not just for women but for children and men as well, also have a sizeable market potential.

7. Prison Market

Prison has become more than a place to lockup felons, criminals and other misfits of society (including those wrongly accused, of course). The prison system is a hot growing market full of business potentials, estimated to be about $37 billion serving more than 2 million inmates. States spend more than $30 billion annually for their prison system and about $5 billion is spent for the federal inmates. This is a sector that never runs out of customers — in fact, a study showed that 52 percent of released convicts were back in jail within three years! This is a tremendous market to crack!

The needs of this sector of focuses on a variety of things, including security, medicine, education, food service, maintenance and technology. Some of the businesses that have penetrated this market include prepaid phone service serving both inmates and their families; electronic and hardware security products including modular prefab prison cells; and a consulting/training service to prepare white collar criminals how to survive in prison including coursework, physical and mental training, self-defense and even role-playing.

The downside of this sector is the tremendous bureaucracy and government contracting process that a small business has to crack to be able to do business with the prison system. There are also the ups and downs of dealing with the federal and state budget system. Plus the sector is known for sticking with what works and slow to adapt to new technologies and innovative ideas. Nonetheless, this is a sector that is ripe with all sorts of possibilities and opportunities.

8. Specialized Pet Products

Pets have become big business. American pet owners are spending more on their pets, from gourmet food products to clothes and accessories. Think about Paris Hilton with her Tinkerbell, or Britney Spears with her dog Bitbit. Pet owners (or as they like to call themselves, “pet parents”) pamper their pooches and kittens, as pets are increasingly seen as family members, not just animals.

The humanization of pets is one of the factors that stimulates the demand for pet products, and ensures that pets sit in the lap of luxury. Hence, gourmet pet food products, upscale pet grooming boutiques and stores, and even clothing retailers for pets have emerged to serve the demand from a predominantly upscale market. Becky Marshall has found a growing niche in gourmet frozen treats market for dogs with her business.

If you are thinking of going into the pet business, one clue as to the demographic of your target audience can be found in one of the direct mail lists provided by Direct Magazine. The magazine’s Canine and Kitty corps lists include more than 2.5 million dog owners and 1.1 million cat owners, the average age of which is 46 with a $61,233 income. Of those who buy from the Internet, the magazine’s list includes more than 1 million individuals with a $100,000 income.

9. Changing Face of Baby Boomers

The baby boomers of today — those individuals born between 1946 and 1964 — are not the grandparents of yesteryears. They are not some demure grandmothers sitting on a rocking chair. Instead, they are active, busy and generally are doing a lot. Some are even going back to work, or starting new careers! If you are looking for a market to serve, there are tremendous opportunities in targeting the baby boomers. According to the Bureau of Census, the “baby boom” propelled the largest percentage increases of any age group in the 1990-2000 decade.

A Merrill Lynch study entitled “The New Retirement Survey” reveals how baby boomers will transform retirement. The study finds that boomers are not interested in pursuing a traditional retirement of leisure. Instead, the majority of boomers plan to keep working and earning in retirement, but will do so by cycling between periods of work and leisure, thus creating a new model of retirement. Richard Busch, nearing the age of retirement, even decided to change careers from journalism to pottery, and now operates a successful pottery business with his Glenfiddich Farm Pottery!

As such, services or products that cater to the changing perspective of baby boomers about retirement are growing. This is a large, growing, and under-served market. Opportunities are aplenty for small businesses as these baby boomers are leaving and buying new (often smaller) homes, moving to senior communities or even deciding to stay put. Many of the baby boomers are looking for specialized, unique, even high-end services – which a small or even home-based business can provide. Some possible services include eco-tours, home remodeling, financial services, specialized spas and even kayaking.

Another profitable niche to consider is an apparel business targeting senior women. Women over the age of 50 are estimated to stand at about 50 million in the United States today — a baby boomer woman turns 50 every 14 seconds. As a woman ages, her spending power typically increases — but marketers’ interest in dressing her decreases! Only a few retailers are actively targeting this important market segment.

10. Lifestyle Changing Habits

Millions of consumers are changing their dietary and lifestyle habits. The change may be a result of an effort to lead a healthier and longer life, or a direct response to a health need. Some consumers are reducing their caffeine consumption, switching to organic foods, driving ecologically friendly vehicles or opting for recycled paper products. Other lifestyle changes may include people exercising more at home, which offers opportunities for businesses engaged in remodeling.

Small and home-based businesses may focus their businesses around the new interests, attitudes, opinions, and way of life of consumers. This consumer segment would welcome products that supported their alternative lifestyle, from mortgages on ecologically built and run houses to foods grown exclusively in organic gardens.

There are many more possible businesses and good market niche for home businesses. The key is to observe closely, understand what people need and address those needs through quality products and services. Then you’ll hit the homerun!

BACK TO PART 1: Top 10 Growing Markets for Small Businesses

Isabel Isidro

Isabel Isidro is the co-founder of A mom of three boys, avid vintage postcard collector, frustrated scrapbooker, she also manages Women Home Business, Starting Up Tips and Learning from Big Boys. Connect with her in Google +.

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