Meatball Mondae week 9: The Long Tail
[Somehow, this post disappeared. I'm trying again!]
(Almost) everyone wants choice
By itself, a bias for choice is interesting but not particularly surprising. What's surprising is the magnitude of this desire. My favorite example is the comparison of a typical Barnes & Noble store with Amazon. If you examine the sales of the 150,000 titles in a big store, you'll see that they account for perhaps half of Amazon's book sales. In other words, if you aggregate the millions of poorly selling titles on Amazon, they add up to the total sales of all the bestselling books in the physical world put together.
Another way of looking at it: More people watched more video on YouTube last week than watched the top ten shows on network television.
Another way: A quick look at your grocer's beverage aisle will prove to you that Coca-Cola is no longer the most popular soft drink in the country. The most popular soft drink is "other": none of the above.
The mass of choices defeats the biggest hit.
This curve shows up over and over. It describes travel habits, DVD rentals, and book sales. Give people a choice and the tail always gets longer. Always.
The Long Tail has been around forever, but only now does it really matter. That's because of several trends working together:
a. Online shopping gives the retailer the ability to carry a hundred times the inventory of a typical retail store.
b. Google means that a user can find something if it's out there.
c. Permission marketing gives sellers the freedom to find products for their customers, instead of the other way around.
d. Digital products are easy to store and easy to customize.
e. Digital technology makes it easy to customize non-digital goods.
The question isn't, "Is this real?" The question is: "What are you doing about it?"
The rest of the series is here.