The ‘Long Tail’ describes a business model prevalent in many Internet based companies
such as Amazon, Netflix and ebay and deals with the economics of abundance where the
constraints of physical shelf space together with the problems of distribution suddenly
disappear and everything becomes available to everyone.
Although ‘Niche’ promotion has always been part of our marketing culture, Chris Anderson,
the Californian editor of ‘Wired Magazine takes it to an entirely different level.
He goes onto say ‘Our culture has always been a massive popularity contest. We are
consumed by musical hits, by making them, consuming them and watching their rise and
fall.’
However, the era of the blockbuster is over. The big hits of the broadcast era are declining.
Number one may be still number one, but the sales that go with it are not what they once
were. In short, although we still obsess over hits, they are not quite the economic force they
once used to be.
The most desirable audiences for advertisers are beginning to turn off their TV altogether
and shifting more and more of their screen time to the internet.
And interestingly he maintains that this phenomenon is not exclusive to the online sales of
records and books. It affects almost every product category where there is a variety of
choice. Take flour for example which he remembers being sold in a big bag marked flour.
Today there are more than twenty different types of flour, from whole wheat and organic
varieties to exotics such as amaranth as well as blue corn meal.
Although he claims to have coined the term ‘Long Tail’, he openly admits that most of the
credit for creating the concept should be attributed to entrepreneurs like Amazon’s Jeff
Bezos, and his counterparts at Netflix and Rhapsody who are the real inventors.
The moral of this story is ‘Sell more of less.’