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How to find niche markets for new technologies

You are developing a new technology, and you ask yourself, what is the best market for this technology? In other words, who might have an interest in buying your technology? And how many interested people or organizations are out there, i.e. how big is your market?

It might be counterintuitive, but it might be good to look for niche markets. Looking for niche markets is an example of what innovation analysts do.

Why niche markets?

Your first reaction might be, “let’s find the largest market out there for my new tech. After all, I want as many people as possible to buy my technology. Not to mention that investors will also find large numbers more attractive”.

But consider this. Many people have argued and demonstrated successfully that you should start in a small or niche market instead. Why? To quote Peter Thiel, from his book Zero to One, “it’s easier to dominate a small market than a large one”. Peter Thiel then provides several examples of how this works in his book.

So, how can you find niche markets for your new technology?

How Mergeflow helps you discover niche markets

Let’s say you just developed a new collaborative robotics technology. You could now spend days searching the web, aggregating your findings, etc.. Or you could treat yourself to a fancy but expensive market report from a consultancy. And then very likely find that the report does not really address your specific question because it was written for a more general audience, and that in order to really address your question, you’d also have to buy this, that, and the other report.

Or you could use Mergeflow for discovering niche markets. Mergeflow uses natural language processing to extract market estimates from news, blogs, press releases, company websites and other sources. Then, it normalizes and aggregates the extracted data into a table. This means that you can search Mergeflow for your technology, zoom in on markets, and simply order the markets by size (smallest first in this case).


An example: Looking for niche markets of “collaborative robotics”

Now, back to our “collaborative robotics” example. Mergeflow does not just show you estimates of “the collaborative robotics market”. It also shows you market estimates that are related to your technology. “Related” means applications or constituent technologies. For example, “autonomous vehicles” could be an application of “deep learning technologies”. And “fiber optics” could be a constituent technology for “5G networks”. In Mergeflow, these markets are called “context markets”.

The screenshot from Mergeflow below shows examples of small context markets of “collaborative robotics” (click on the image to enlarge):

"Collaborative robotics" niche markets discovered by Mergeflow. Some market segments show up more than once because the market sizes or growth rates differ between estimates.
“Collaborative robotics” niche markets discovered by Mergeflow. Some market segments show up more than once because the market sizes or growth rates differ between estimates.

And here are some of the large markets in the context of collaborative robotics (click on the image to enlarge):

Large "collaborative robotics" context markets discovered by Mergeflow.
Large “collaborative robotics” context markets discovered by Mergeflow.

Notice how none of these markets even mentions “collaborative robotics” in its name. It is more like discovering applications for your technology, along with estimates of their market size and growth rate (CAGR).

By the way, Mergeflow does not generate the market size and growth estimates. It merely extracts and normalizes market data from news and other sources.


Now, back to our original question, “what are niche markets for collaborative robotics technology?” As you can see in the tables above, pharmaceutical robots would be one example. But not smart manufacturing. It is too large, and therefore much more likely to attract fierce competition.

Some more examples: LiDAR and ad-hoc networks

LiDAR technology

LiDAR is a technology for measuring distances with laser light.

Related: Who invented the LiDAR for the iPad Pro?

Here are small context markets for LiDAR…

Small context markets for LiDAR.
Small context markets for LiDAR

…and big ones:

Large LiDAR context markets.
Large LiDAR context markets

According to these results, delivery robots (small) could be a better market in which to launch your new LiDAR technology than, for example, smart fleet management (too big).

Niche markets for ad-hoc networks technology

Ad-hoc networks are decentralized networks that can be created, well, ad-hoc from already existing infrastructure. For example, you could use smartphones or already-existing routers.

Here are context markets for ad-hoc networks from Mergeflow, ordered by size estimate in 2021 (“small” at the top, “big” at the bottom):

Context markets for ad-hoc networks. The market segments are ordered by estimated size in 2021, from "small" at the top to "big" at the bottom.
Context markets for ad hoc networks The market segments are ordered by estimated size in 2021 from small at the top to big at the bottom

Spectrum analyzers here are a constituent technology, not an application of ad-hoc networks.

You can see that data center interconnect would be a much smaller and therefore more interesting entry market than, for example, smart city platforms.

So you found a niche market. What now?

Let’s say that you found a potentially interesting niche market. What’s next?

In order to make informed decisions on what to do next, you could now use Mergeflow to explore your technology in the context of your selected niche market. By this, I basically mean an AND-search. For example, search for “collaborative robots” AND “pharmacies or pharmaceutical”.

In order to give you a flavor of what such a “technology in the context of a market” search can look like, I created an interactive 360° Report with Mergeflow for you, for collaborative robotics in the context of pharmaceutical applications (for example, moving medications around in a hospital).

360° Report generated with Mergeflow, on "Collaborative Robotics for Pharmaceutical Applications".
360° Report generated with Mergeflow, on “Collaborative Robotics for Pharmaceutical Applications”. Click on the image to get to the report.