NICHE: Why The Market No Longer Favours the Mainstream, by James Harkin
Little, Brown. £20
This book is dressed up as one of those guides to everything that is going to happen in global capitalism over the next ten years that the regional sales directors of plastics manufacturers pick up on their ways to the annual European conference and leave unread as they search for sex workers that will take the company credit card. But it is actually an excellent and timely explanation of how, in terms of what consumers buy, big and mainstream is over and niche is in. Harkin illustrates his thesis that the future belongs to not necessarily small but certainly perfectly formed and expertise-driven products with a highly original overview of cars, coffee, notebooks, computers and media. But this is also a very funny memoir and Harkin’s description of the ICA’s attempt to go mainstream five years ago, thus deftly missing the point of the ICA, is written from the perspective of a man who knows what happened as he was the ICA’s director of talks at the time. So deft, intriguing and entertaining – perhaps wasted on that salesman boarding the 7.14 to Düsseldorf then.
•••• (4 stars)