The value of niche is in the customer that a niche manufacturer brings through the door. Sometimes it’s measured in incremental opportunity, such as a prophylactic acne offering among a sea of acne treatments. And sometimes it’s measured in what happens if that niche brand is not on the shelf, driving the customer to another retail outlet. That value doesn’t change in a tough economy, but the factors that establish whether or not a niche manufacturer ever gets to the shelf, and stays on that shelf, do. There are two significant challenges for niche in today’s economic climate — SKU rationalization and the availability of capital.