Communication de conférence

A flat theorization of niche market emergence

Pomiès, Anissa (1988-....) ; Scientific Conference on Eating and Drinking. Lyon, France, 11-13 April 2018

Institut Paul Bocuse 2018

What is a niche market, and how does it emerge within an existing, large-scale market? To answer these questions, I explore the emergence of the coffee shop niche market in France. Coffee shops are small-size businesses serving acidic coffees prepared by skilled baristas. Some of which participate in a yearly contest organized by a new actor in the industry, a transnational professional association called Specialty Coffee Association. Coffee shops stand out from traditional French cafés ... offering bitter espressos made by professionals with no training in coffee preparation. Although a new coffee shop is opening almost every month since 2010, the number of coffee shops remains limited: less than 60 coffee shops were coexisting with approximately 35.000 cafés in 2015 (author’s inventory). Building on a three-year ethnographic inquiry into coffee shops, traditional cafés and barista championships, I analyze market exchanges and the frames shaping them. The data set is composed of both visual and discursive data that I analyzed using Actor-Network Theory, a sociological theory that is getting greater attention in the field of consumer research. I find that the emergence of a niche market requires three related phenomena. First, some actors from outside destabilize the existing network of stakeholders, and problematize the frame shaping the mainstream market. Second, the outsiders create a new frame and enroll other market actors into their own network. Third, the new frame circulates, shaping the emerging niche market. These three phenomena nourish themselves, and occur simultaneously. I contribute to market dynamics -a growing body of literature in the field of consumer research- by conceptualizing niche market creation as a mechanism based on the moving of a new frame within a growing network of actors.

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