Acquiring market flexibility via niche portfolios: The case of Fisher & Paykel Appliance Holdings Ltd

Robert Hamlin (Department of Marketing, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand)
James Henry (Department of Marketing, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand)
Ron Cuthbert (School of Agriculture, Business & Technology, Olds College, Olds, Canada)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Publication date: 14 September 2012



This paper seeks to establish that the instability of niche markets, and their predisposition to catastrophic collapse, makes market flexibility a prerequisite for long‐term survival among niche marketers. It describes the two ways by which a niche marketer can acquire this market flexibility and demonstrates the advantages of the second of these two approaches, i.e. the development of a portfolio of separated niches.


An in‐depth discussion of niche instability/implosion, and how niche market flexibility can be acquired to increase the survivability of such events, provides the context for a single in‐depth case study of a company employing a systematic niche market flexibility approach. A multi‐method approach was adopted drawing on both interviews and documentary evidence.


Planning for flexibility is essential for long‐term survival as a niche marketer. Two broad approaches to achieve this exist – i.e. contingency and portfolio planning – which are not mutually exclusive. The portfolio approach offers specific advantages and examples of its successful applications exist.

Research limitations/implications

This is a single case study.

Practical implications

The article has significant implications for practice, as fragmentation of markets and globalisation of production makes niche marketing desirable/essential for many players.


The area of planning for flexibility using a niche portfolio marketing strategy is under‐researched at present.



Hamlin, R., Henry, J. and Cuthbert, R. (2012), "Acquiring market flexibility via niche portfolios: The case of Fisher & Paykel Appliance Holdings Ltd", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 46 No. 10, pp. 1302-1319.

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