Monday, May 28, 2007

Niche Market Research: Anime North 2007

Over-Protective-Parent Spends Weekend Shadowing 15 year old Anime Fan! Those are today's headlines - yep, I'm back from the largest Anime conference in Canada! I might have mentioned before that my son (aka The Boy) is a HUGE fan of Japanese animation but if I didn't, I'm mentioning it again. He's been a fan since he was 4 and discovered Speed Racer and Pokemon I played Pokemon Stadium for hours trying to get my Togepei to evolve (yeah, I know Togepei is a weak Pokemon but how else was I going to play hard and still let a 5 year old win?!?)

This is the second Anime Conference for Over-Protective-Parent but it was the largest. I go to shadow The Boy and at the same time I can do some research into a niche market. The Boy made me into an Anime character shown above. I collaborated with him on some beads awhile back. I kept telling him I could make his Chibi style drawings into beads - and I did! An Anime "Con" might be the right place for them, but I needed to do some research.

I saw alot of food themed beads, donuts, tofu, cupcakes, strawberries made of polymer clay. Very cute and low price points. I saw a display of elaborate paper flowers made into pins. Some of the artists had made very small printings of their drawn characters and glued them onto the back of a glass nugget - then they attached a magnet or a pin. At dealers tables were base metal and enamel necklaces of berries, computer game "fruits" and letters - those were between $12 - $20 Canadian funds.

There was alot a separate area for the Art Show. The Art Show might be a more appropriate place for an Art Bead. Most of the beads I saw made into jewelry were inexpensive. A handcrafted Art Bead such as the one I've shown today would sell for between $70 - $100 Canadian funds. The painted beads are hand drawn then handpainted with custom mixed enamels onto a sheet of glass and then fired. But I'm not done with the bead once the painting is finished. A base bead is made in the flame and I melt the painting onto the base bead in the flame. It's quite a process but you can create small paintings in a bead - there's nothing quite like it. I have one of The Boy's characters in glass that will last thousands of years. That's some serious handcrafting!

I have that crossing the border thing to look into too - I have no idea how to start researching selling across the border in Canada! But in the meantime, I could sell beads that appeal to the Anime fan on line. I'll do some more research but I'm lucky to have a ready - made focus group (The Boy and his friends).

Have you explored a new niche market lately?

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