Let’s begin with discussing what is the long tail. According to Longtail.com, “The theory of the Long Tail is that our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of “hits” (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail.” As we continue to progress through the internet age, culture subtly changes and paradigms begin to shift. One prominent ongoing change is that fact that mainstream culture is beginning to shrink and the demand for less popular products is steadily going up. This is a product of new manufacturing and distribution processes, but also a product of the internet.
Before, what was in constant demand were the things that were readily and easily available. The most popular movies were watched because it was far easier to watch a blockbuster movie than to watch an indie movie that was exclusively released at Portland Film Festival. Listening to music was about listening to what was mainly on the radio because it was easy to purchase that CD of your favorite top 40 pop artist. Even when it came to retail, the majority bought the household named brands.
Now that manufacturing costs, distribution costs, and promotion costs are down, people are not forced to buy mainstream products due to convenience. The internet made it easier for anyone to find the most niche of products. Now you can stream that indie flick from Netflix, you can purchase that band’s music your friends told you about through iTunes. You want a good smelling organic shaving cream? Just Google it.
The internet is making niche market items in demand because it is just as easy to watch Palo Alto than it is to watch Logan.
How can marketers apply this knowledge to aid in marketing? Embrace personalization. Society is tired of being told what they like and being a part of a one size fits all model. The Long Tail Theory is proof of this.
Some examples of good personalization strategies or strategies that embrace long tail theory:
- Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign – added personalized phrased on the bottle
- Spotify’s “Discover Weekly” playlist – personalized playlists based on listening habits and preferences, changed weekly
- NikeID – Let’s the customer design their own shoe using presets