The Long Tail: Book summary and reviews of The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

The Long Tail

Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More

by Chris Anderson

The Long Tail
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  • Published in USA  Jul 2006
    256 pages
    Genre: Advice

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Book Summary

"The Long Tail" is a powerful new force in our economy: the rise of the niche. As the cost of reaching consumers drops dramatically, our markets are shifting from a one-size-fits-all model of mass appeal to one of unlimited variety for unique tastes.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Anderson manages to explain a murky trend in clear language, giving entrepreneurs and the rest of us plenty to think about." - PW
"Anderson’s insights with The Long Tail continue to influence Google’s strategic thinking in a profound way." - Eric Schmidt, CEO, Google

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Dan

Good Read
In “The Long Tail” Chris Anderson attempts to explain the shift in the buying habits of consumers from big box type stores to a more niche based shopping experience more conducive to the internet shopping experience. He explains that “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 the costs of production and distribution fall, especially online, there is now less need to lump products and consumers into one-size-fits-all containers. In an era without the constraints of physical shelf space and other bottlenecks of distribution, narrowly-target goods and services can be as economically attractive as mainstream fare.”
Anderson explains that the buying habits of consumers have been shaped by the producers of the mass marketed items. He states it has traditionally been easier, cheaper, and faster to market a lot of products at once to the consumer to make their lives easier. Once upon a time this was definitely a more convenient and certainly a more profitable way for an organization to do business. It is much easier for a consumer to purchase ten things from one store then to trek around town to purchase one thing at ten stores. The only problem this gives the consumer is the ability to choose from a variety of brands for the product they are looking for. They are pigeon-holed in to purchasing only the product that is offered by the store they are at. This puts the consumer at a disadvantage because they are now no longer in charge of what they buy. Presumably, the organization will work in their own best interests to put the product on the shelf that creates the most profit instead of the one that works best for the consumer.
The internet, he argues, changes all of that. The digital age gives the consumer the ability to log on to marketplace websites such as Amazon and eBay to research, compare, and decide exactly which type of that particular product is the one they desire. No longer is the corporation in charge of what the consumer buys. Consumers have the ability and buying power to change all of that. Anderson believes that organizations should embrace this shift in the dynamics of the relationship they have with consumers and begin focused marketing programs based around niche based products. Given the opportunity, consumers will search for what they believe to be the best product available at the best price. They will no longer be stuck purchasing what few options are given to them.
Personally, I tend to agree with Anderson on this one. Reading the book, I felt it was me he was describing when he talked about the shift in the attitudes of the consumers. I whole-heartedly recommend this book for any future or current marketing professional. It will open your eyes to a phenomenon that is occurring now and will continue to evolve of time. Any time the purchasing habits of a consumer begin to change, the organizations who are ahead of the curve, or the tail so to speak, are the ones who end up on top. While the big box stores will always continue to exist and thrive, there is certainly a growing percentage of the population that prefers the online marketplace.

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