© 2019 The Ethnography Atelier

Anissa Pomies

Assistant Professor of Marketing
emlyon business school

Problematization, Creation, and Circulation of Frames: A Flat Theorization of Niche Market Emergence

Abstract

How does a niche market emerge within an existing, large-scale market? To answer this question, we explore the emergence of the coffee shop niche market in France. Building on a three-year ethnographic inquiry in coffee shops, traditional cafés and barista championships, we analyze market exchanges and the frames shaping them. We find that the emergence of a niche market requires three related phenomena. First, 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. We contribute to the literature on market dynamics by conceptualizing niche market creation as a mechanism based on the circulation of a new frame within a growing network of actors.