The Naughty Niches: Potential Gold Mines or Business Killers?

Okay, so you’re looking for new ways to grow your online business and you can’t help but notice all those adult oriented matchmaking sites popping up (literally) all over the place. After awhile you begin asking yourself if it’s time to replace or augment your G-rated online dating affiliate links with companies offering something a little more seductive.

You’re thinking about this because you’re wondering if the membership conversion rates of adult dating sites will be higher due to the tantalizing personal profile ads they display and the desire of many viewers (single or otherwise) to see more details that are only provided to their paying members.

Or perhaps you’re thinking of going even a little more “X-treme” with the idea of sponsoring a particular fetish site, adding an adult toys area to your online gift shop, or writing a new eBook related to some exotic sexual taste.

Well before you decide to take the leap into any of these “Naughty Niches,” there are several other questions you should be asking yourself before doing so.

Question #1: Can I really make money being naughty?

In a Dating & Relationship Marketplace consumer survey we conducted during October through December 2003, over 27% of the respondents stated they had purchased lingerie or sexy clothing online during the prior 12 months. Over 20% of the respondents said they bought Sex Toys online during this same period. Of the 33 different product categories we tracked, these two naughty niches were the top two most cited categories for online purchases.

It’s no surprise that the growing acceptance of, and comfort with, making adult purchases online (due to the potential “embarrassment factor” of purchasing adult products in person) makes them ideal (although highly competitive) naughty niches for future growth.

And as far as making money with Adult Dating Websites, you don’t have to be the size of an AdultFriendFinder.com to be successful. Small sites like SexHookUp.com (which was recently acquired by AdultFreeway.com) claims to have been attracting over 300,000 unique users a month during its first four months of operation. Numbers I’m sure any webmaster would like to achieve.

So is there money to be made promoting or participating in these growing market segments? Well it’s obvious that some companies are doing quite well exploiting these most basic human desires. But before you decide to participate, consider the next question first.

Question #2: What will my existing customers think?

So now the real question becomes, do you risk driving away your existing customer base by offending them with adult products or adult promotional advertisements? In other words, could adopting a naughty niche strategy kill your existing business?

This is a real possibility and one you must consider before just adding adult products or affiliate promotions to your existing Website. Chances are the types of customers you’re attracting to your current Website don’t have the right demographic or psychographic profile for your new Naughty Niche offerings anyway. So why jeopardize your existing business by driving away proven customers. There is a better approach.

Question #3: Can I be naughty and nice at the same time?

If you think one of the Naughty Niches might be right for you, a lower risk strategy would be to develop an entirely separate Website to explore the business potential of your naughty ideas. This way you don’t risk your existing business. And if you’re worried about what your customers (or your neighbors) might think of your new focus, you can always experiment with your new niche anonomously. Domain name registrars such as Godaddy.com now offer private registrations that, in their words, “protect you from Spam, scams, prying eyes and worse.” Combine a private domain name registration with a pseudonym (if you’re a writer) and you’ll be able to “mind your own business” until you want to make your new business activity public. I’m not suggesting that you take this approach, I’m just saying it’s an available option.

Now if the above all seems too sleazy and clandestine for you, then you need to answer the next question honestly.

Question #4: Is a Naughty Niche really right for my business?

Whether, or not, you choose to expand or develop your business in one of these Naughty Niches is, of course, entirely up to you. And of course, like in everything else, there are varying degrees of “naughty” you can choose from. For example, a Website that offers erotic stories or sexual “how to” books is a far cry from a site that offers online personals and matchmaking for S&M aficionados. At the end of the day, it’s really a matter of your own comfort level with whatever area you choose to do business in. Bottom line, if you’re ever in doubt about whether to get into a certain business, or not, a simple test you can use to make your decision is to imagine how it would look if your business activities were printed on the front page of your local newspaper. If you’d be comfortable with the public disclosure, then you should have nothing to be ashamed of. Otherwise, you may want to choose another product or service to build your business around and leave the Naughty Niches to others.

So what’s the answer?

Human nature being what it is, there will always be money to be made targeting any niche having to do with sex. The Internet has made access to “all things naughty” easier and, to some extent, more mainstream than ever before. Can joining the Naughty Niche gold rush be the strategy that takes your business to new levels of profitability, or will it be a strategy that ultimately kills your goose that’s already laying your golden eggs. The answer will be different for every business owner. Only the questions will remain the same.