Business as (un)usual: These unusual businesses have capitalized on very niche markets, such as cuddle sessions or rotting bouquet deliveries.
- Businesses often sell unique products or services to carve out a niche for themselves.
- Strange businesses market to their core customer base and don’t worry about mass appeal.
- Strange businesses rely on word-of-mouth marketing to drive continued interest in their unique offerings.
- This article is for entrepreneurs with strange or unique business ideas, as well as anyone who wants to learn about very niche businesses.
When most entrepreneurs start a business, they pursue frightfully normal business ideas. After all, what sells better than goods and services everyone needs? But humans express a broad range of habits and desires, and that allows some strange businesses to flourish and carve out unique marketplace niches.
We’ll highlight eight companies that forgo mass appeal for shock value, intrigue or just plain weirdness, and we’ll touch on ways to market an eccentric business.
8 eccentric businesses that may surprise you
Unusual niches don’t necessarily make for bad business ideas. They’re business plans you may not have seen coming or didn’t realize had a peculiar demographic waiting for them. Here are eight peculiar businesses filling needs you never knew existed.
1. Dogue restaurant for dogs
You might have heard of cat cafes or dog-friendly restaurants, but have you ever heard of a restaurant just for dogs? San Francisco’s Dogue offers a $75 tasting menu exclusively for canines, including homemade ”pawtisserie” and “dogguccinos.”
Dogue was founded by Rahmi Massarweh, a chef who initially sought to create healthy dishes for his beloved pets. Beyond the novelty of stopping by with your faithful companion for a bowl of organic beef chuck steak, Dogue is dedicated to spreading the word about pet nutrition and its effects on a dog’s health. You can purchase Dogue food to go or have a meal plan custom-made for your dog’s dietary needs.
Visit the Dogue website to learn more about this unique business.
2. Edible shoes
Apparently, edible shoes are a thing. While most companies that make edible shoes are also in the business of producing more conventional fare, edible shoes are a large enough market that a quick Google search reveals dozens of results. Most of these toe-tapping treats are made of chocolate, which begs the question, “What happens when they start to melt?”
3. Potato Parcel
Samwise Gamgee of Lord of the Rings fame forgot that in addition to boiling, mashing, and stewing potatoes, you can also write on them and send them via mail.
Potato Parcel writes custom messages on potatoes and delivers them to the recipient of your choice. Nothing says love like a potato you can’t eat because it’s been written on. Visit the Potato Parcel website to learn more.
4. Hire Goats
Have you moved to the suburbs? Forget about a pricey lawn mower and hire a goat! Hire Goats takes the meaning of natural and eco-friendly products to a new level by letting you rent a goat to clip your grass. Talk about a sustainable business model! There are several locations across the country where you can rent a goat (or many) for your lawn care.
The company boasts that goats are commonly used for brush eradication, restoring biodiversity, and maintaining farmland and pastures. You will have a new GOAT (greatest of all time) for lawn care, and yes, they bleat. Visit the Hire Goats website for more details and pricing information.
5. Cuddle Party
We all need a hug sometimes. Thankfully, cuddle parties exist. Cuddle Party does more than just hold you; the service also teaches you how to create boundaries and connections.
After opening with a welcome circle and learning some basic skills, the floor opens to freestyle cuddling. Cuddle Party’s services are available in various places in the United States, Europe, Canada and Australia. Visit the Cuddle Party website to find out more.
6. Virtual Dating Assistants
If you’re fed up with the dating scene, outsource some of the work. Virtual Dating Assistants (VIDA) Select creates online dating profiles for you, has conversations with potential dates, and plans and organizes dates on your behalf. All you need to do is show up for the date at the designated time and place and have a good time. Visit the VIDA Select website for more information.
7. Dirty Rotten Flowers
Bad breakup? Good sense of humor? Does spite drive your decision-making? Dirty Rotten Flowers is for you. This business sends bouquets of dead, rotting flowers to your not-loved ones.
Just keep in mind that because you’re not sending fresh, live flowers, the recipient doesn’t get the opportunity to love something and then watch it die and feel guilty because they kill everything they touch; however, sending a rotten bouquet will send a clearer message.
Bob Barker spoke wise words when he encouraged everyone to spay and neuter their pets. But are your pets really the same after they get snipped? If this is something you’re worried about, you can buy artificial testicular implants for your furry friends from Neuticles.
The company claims that its implants will boost your pet’s self-esteem – because, obviously, your pets are very concerned about their sudden lack of body parts and don’t want their animal friends to know they’ve been under the knife.
How to market a strange business
Marketing a strange business is like any other small business marketing strategy, except you have a very narrow scope. You’ll need to connect to your target audience and ensure you’re solving its problems and pain points. You’re likely a part of your target audience and understand how your product or service fills a void.
Conduct customer surveys to ask your target audience the following questions:
Where do they go to find solutions?
How much do they pay for their less-than-perfect solution?
How long does it take them to get what they need to solve their unique problem?
Market your unusual business via social media to reach more potential customers. Consider creating a pricing strategy with a larger premium than average – after all, you have a niche product for a niche audience, and low prices can scare off customers.
The best part of launching a strange product or service is that your audience will spread the word via word-of-mouth marketing to others facing the same issues your strange product or service solves.
A market for creativity
Unique business ideas appeal to niche markets eager to solve a problem. Your strange business idea isn’t strange to your audience – it’s likely a welcome solution that will build customer loyalty if it solves specific issues.
There will always be a market for strange businesses because humans are unique and creative, forever seeking products and services that speak to us.
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