Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Review: The Long Tail

The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More by Chris Anderson is a book that explores how people shop and purchase and compares it to how they did this over the last 40 years to come up with a new theory of niches and individual tastes. Chris shows how the age of mega blockbuster is coming to a close. As part of that statement he shows that the numbers as a whole are going up as general consumption is going up, but as a percentage of the population and of the purchases dollars spent, it is steadily decreasing. Mr. Anderson utilizes Rhapsody, iTunes, and are leading the way in offering huge selections to feed our very individualistic tastes. We no longer have to be satisfied by the stock of the local record store, or by what the small B. Dalton located in the mall to drive what we could buy. If I have a taste for Industrial Alternative Carnival music, then now I can truly buy music that fits that genre.

The problem that Chris points at though is how can consumers find these items. How can I find the Surf Green KitchenAid StandMixer? (Did you know there are 24 colors of KitchenAid StandMixers?) How do I find new music to fit my taste or a new author or work that fits my need to read? It was possible for the old time record store clerk to handle their catalog, but can any one person handle 300,000+ albums in their head and Amazon carries many, many more than that...

I enjoyed the book as a sort of mental exercise where I utilized his problem space (even though I sit in it at work) and tried to think of ways to surface those things that are not commonly shown since they aren't mainstream. The problem is really surfacing those to the right people. I recommend this book as a look at marketing to niches and the smaller, avid consumers within.

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