Marketing 101 Niche Markets

Table of Content

The first goal is to determine the main market for Mike Ball Dive Expedition and recognize any other potential markets that may exist.

In this essay, we will analyze the applicable segmenting dimensions used by MBDE to segment the dive market. We will also cover the psychographic and geographic segmenting dimensions for the target market of MBDE’s diving consumers. Furthermore, we will identify market opportunities for Mike Ball and explore how he could reposition MBDE. The focus of the analysis is on the niche marketing approach adopted by MBDE, as illustrated in the provided case study.

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MBDE, a Cairns based international live-aboard dive expedition company, offers dive services for the great barrier reef and the coral sea. The company caters for experienced diving enthusiasts with 6 different types of expeditions for novice to advanced divers, focusing on providing a quality customised service. According to a case study, the region is renowned for its exceptional diving experiences, and MBDE is positioned as a first-class live-aboard diving option for affluent and experienced divers. Philip Kotler (2001) describes an attractive niche as customers with distinct needs who are willing to pay a premium for a company that best satisfies those needs.

The text highlights the unique and tailored service offered by Mike Ball Dive Expeditions to meet the diving needs of its customers. The company ensures personalized assistance for each guest, considering their diving experience level. This includes assistance with dive equipment, transportation to dive sites, and guidance on safety measures. The case study illustrates the increasing popularity of adventure tourism in Australia, which involves activities such as bushwalking, rainforest walks, scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, and various water sports.

According to the National Visitor Survey conducted by Tourism Research Australia in 2005, a significant number of visitors choose outdoor activities like sailing, windsurfing, and kayaking when traveling to Australia. The survey reveals that 728,000 domestic visitors spent over 4.4 million nights engaging in dive/snorkel activities across the country. Of these visitors, a total of 421,000 (58%) specifically opted for QLD.

In 2005, Tourism Queensland reported that a total of 735,032 international dive/snorkel visitors visited Australia according to the International Visitor Survey. These visitors spent a combined total of 30,401,781 visitor nights in the country. Around 89% of these visitors made a stopover in QLD, resulting in a count of 654,231 visitors. From 2003 to 2005, there was an observed increase of 8% in these figures.

Australia experienced a 4% increase in international tourists who visited specifically for diving and snorkeling. The United Kingdom makes up 24% of this market, while Japan holds a 22% share. Europe (excluding the UK and Germany) accounts for 17%, with the USA following at 13%. Among these markets, Europe (excluding the UK and Germany) had the highest growth in dive/snorkel tourism to Australia, with an average annual growth rate of 11.4% from 2003 to 2005.

81% of international dive/snorkel visitors to Australia came for holiday/leisure purposes, while 8% visited friends and relatives. The VFR market has been growing at an annual rate of 9.9% since 2003, and the holiday/leisure market has also seen an increase of 8%.

3%. In Australia, 48% of international dive/snorkel visitors were aged 25-44, with an additional 28% falling in the age group of 15-24. The annual growth rate for dive/snorkel visitors aged 25 and above was 5.0% from 2003 to 2005.

In 2005, data showed that both unaccompanied travelers and adult couples accounted for 35% of the total international dive/snorkel market to Australia. However, there was a rise in the number of family groups compared to 2003. Kotler (2003) proposes that consumer markets are categorized into segments based on geographic, demographic, psychographic, and behavioral factors. This case study reveals that MBDE primarily focuses on the dive market through the utilization of psychographic and geographic segmentation.

Both of these segments are applicable. Firstly, geographic segmentation is the process of dividing the market into different geographical units such as countries, regions, states, municipalities, cities, and neighborhoods (Kotler, 2001). This segmentation strategy is often utilized by multinational and global businesses to adjust their marketing mix according to the varying needs of consumers in each geographic segment they operate within.

MBDE, which is located in Queensland, specifically targets overseas divers from the United States, Japan, and Europe.

The text examines the origins of overseas visitors, with the United States accounting for 31 percent, Europe/United Kingdom at 20 percent, and Japan and Asia combining for 16 percent. Australian guests make up the remaining 25 percent. MDBE employs geographic segmentation to cater to each market’s unique requirements by implementing tailored marketing approaches and creating suitable products for each region. The case study showcases that MBDE has introduced Paradisesport and Spoilssport to meet the preferences of American visitors who typically plan their dive trips well in advance, often a year ahead.

The Supersport live-aboard product is more suitable for Japanese divers who tend to take short, less action-oriented trips. These trips are often booked within three months of the departure date due to the nature of the Japanese employment culture. Another factor applicable to MDBE is psychographic segmentation. According to Kotler (2003), psychographic segmentation groups diving buyers based on lifestyle, personality characteristics, and values. This type of segmentation assumes that an individual’s product and brand choices will reflect their characteristics and living patterns. Plummer (1974) credits Lazer (1963) as the first to introduce the concept of lifestyle patterns and its potential relationship with marketing.

Lazer’s definition of lifestyles is a systems concept.

According to Lazer (1963; cited in Plummer, 1974: 33), the term “mode of living” encompasses the unique ways of living in society and the patterns that arise from societal dynamics.

Lazer’s suggestion of linking values and lifestyles is reinforced by the utilization of the SRI International VALS framework in establishing lifestyle classifications. The VALS methodology, which relies on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (1954) as its theoretical foundation, categorizes all U.S adults into eight groups based on psychological traits. These eight groups, known as VALS types, include Innovators, Thinkers, Achievers, Experiencers, Believers, Strivers, Makers, and Survivors. The fundamental principle behind VALS is that individuals showcase their personalities through their actions.

VALS categorizes consumer segments based on personality traits that impact market behavior. By employing psychological principles, VALS divides individuals according to their unique personality traits. These traits serve as the underlying motivation behind consumer actions, with buying behavior serving as the observable outcome resulting from internal motivations.

MBDE’s target audience is composed of financially capable individuals who reside in aesthetically pleasing homes. They are physically active and crave adventure and challenges during their leisure time. These individuals have a deep love for the marine environment, particularly the reef and its diverse ecosystem. They possess a profound appreciation for nature and the marine habitat, deriving their passion for reef conservation from their sport. The marine world offers them an escape from reality that brings them inner peace. In terms of VALS types, this target group falls under Innovators (formerly Actualizers).

SRI’s website states that Innovators are individuals who possess qualities such as success, sophistication, and assertiveness, along with a strong sense of self-worth. Due to their plentiful resources, Innovators exhibit all three main motivations to different extents. They take the lead in embracing change and are highly open to new concepts and technologies. Innovators engage actively in consuming consumer goods and their buying choices demonstrate a preference for exclusive and specialized products and services.

Innovators prioritize image not for status or power, but as a way to showcase their taste, independence, and personality. These individuals are influential figures in both business and government sectors, constantly seeking new challenges. Their lives are marked by diversity, while their belongings and leisure activities reflect a refined appreciation for luxury and quality.

According to the case study, MBDE effectively manages its customer relationships and is recognized for its professionalism, with highly qualified staff providing advice and assistance. Their emphasis on luxury and high-quality service sets them apart from other Dive Expedition operators. Kotler (2003) suggests that in a market where physical products are difficult to differentiate, such as the numerous Australian dive expedition operators, the key to competitive success lies in offering valuable services and improving their quality. It can be concluded that MBDE has positioned their product optimally.

Product position refers to how consumers define a product based on its important attributes and how it compares to competing products. In the case of MBDE, positive testimonials from past customers are prominently displayed on their website, indicating the high quality of service and value for money gained from their expeditions. Additionally, MBDE has received multiple industry awards, further enhancing their reputation. Nevertheless, Kotler (2001) warns that firms like MBDE should be cautious of four major positioning errors.

In the case study, it is observed that MBDE takes pride in serving the high-end and international markets. However, this might lead to over positioning. MBDE should also consider exploring and identifying products that focus more on ecotourism and nature, as there may be competitive advantages in targeting a group who prioritize environmental sustainability over luxury accommodation.

Kotler P (2001) Marketing Management, Millennium Edition (160-292)
Lawson R and Todd S Consumer Lifestyles: A Social Stratification Perspective, Marketing Theory 2002
Lazer, W.An article titled “Lifestyle Concepts and Marketing” was included in the book “Towards Scientific Marketing” edited by S. Greyser in 1963, published by the American Marketing Association in Chicago.

Plummer, J. (1974) ‘The Concept and Application of Lifestyle Segmentation’, Journal ofMarketing 38: 33-7.
The National Visitor Survey (NVS), conducted by Newton Wayman ChongResearch on behalf of Tourism Research Australia.

The International Visitor Survey (IVS) is conducted annually by Newton Wayman ChongResearch on behalf of Tourism Research Australia. Approximately 80,000 Australian residents aged 14 and over are surveyed for the IVS. Data is collected through personal interviews with short-term international visitors at eight Australian airports before their departure. The IVS data is adjusted using figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Overseas Arrivals and Departures data. It should be noted that individuals under the age of 15 are not included in the IVS.

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Marketing 101 Niche Markets. (2017, Dec 26). Retrieved from

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