I remember that during the initial EdTech boom, many founders had the notion that due to the reach and scale of platforms like Udemy and YouTube, a single teacher would be able to teach millions of students and displace many existing teachers.
Power laws applying vertically within a niche — where the top 1% creators get 80% of the market share of revenue — or something like that.
But the increased access to these platforms also meant that there would be a lot of different niches that would come up, where teachers didn't exist previously. The long tail. And that is exactly what happened.
We now have people running their own houseplant channels, photography tutorials, culinary courses, whittling, making machines out of legos, powerlifting... you name it. If there's a hobby or a craft with a niche but sincere audience, you will likely find a person on the internet who is teaching it.
In fact, in many cases, the sincerity and enthusiasm of the creator create an audience for her work; an audience that didn't exist previously.
A similar thing happened with software and online marketing, where we saw the rise of apps, dropshipping businesses, and D2C brands for categories that didn't exist as proper categories before, nor had a well-defined customer base.
In short, we saw a horizontal expansion in the number of categories and niches within domains. Due to the increased reach and visibility offered by online platforms, any creator could now be certain that however obscure her craft or offering might be, she would probably find an audience who matched her passion for it.
And I think this has led to something quite interesting.
As a niche creator or business, in many cases, you no longer have to spend a lot of time and effort convincing people of your offering. You can just put yourself out there, and simply by virtue of doing that, attract folks who are into what you're doing.
This wasn't the case for businesses before the internet. When reaching out to an audience was expensive and high friction — say via newspapers or television — you had to convince people of your product. Finding customers was hard, so pleasing them, pandering to them, negotiating with them, persuading them... all of these things mattered much more.
So, here's what I think.
I think we'll see a slow but gradual rise in businesses that instead of going the conventional marketing route of talking to their customers in a way that they would like to be talked to, will go the other way: they will have an opinionated stance, a philosophy, a mission, a way of speech, and focus on building the product around those values.
They won't try to convince you. Instead, they will focus on catering to customers whose beliefs already align with the company's.
If you see the value in my product, great. If you don't, that's fine too.
Of course, a major underlying factor driving these businesses will be founders with a craftsperson DNA: those who are opinionated and not easily swayed by the market's demands. They will rather focus on improving the product for customers who already get it instead of trying to pander to people who don't match their wavelength, don't understand their philosophy, don't vibe with their taste.
As long as the product is good and you know there's a market for it, however niche, I see many businesses now having the power to dictate their vision better instead of losing all personality in search of market acceptance.
Will we see the rise of boutique businesses that go against the philosophy of blitzscaling and still be appreciated, because they have a strong differentiated brand with a unique personality and value proposition? Perhaps, even be able to command higher prices and achieve positive cash flow and profitability sooner than other brands?
I think so. And even if I'm wrong, in any case, I feel it's an interesting possibility to think about.
In a world of brands that inevitably lose personality as they scale to try to cater to everyone, these brands will be a breath of fresh air. They will stay true to their authentic core, even if it means being polarizing and risking acrimony from a chunk of the market.
Perhaps, this GenZ boutique brand (if I can call it that) will call haters, haters, instead of treating their bullying as something to be avoided or minimized; something the brand has to change about itself in order to please them.
don't care + didn't ask + L + ratio + stay mad.