we almost never think about the obvious. chris anderson, editor-in-chief of wired magazine, caught us on another obvious fact and formulated 'the long tail' around it:
we live in a culture of blockbusters, of hits, we live in an economy of winners and top-10-whatever-lists. and - and this is a very big and: "the vast majority of products are not available at a store near you." we did not even note that, underlying that at an average store you find 30.000 articles.
but the truth is that of every product category we can imagine, we just find the top 3 to 5 selling products/brands in those shelves of abundance.
the rest - and the rest adds up to 99% of the music market, 99% of the video market, 95% of the book market, etc. - is called the long tail (whereas the top sellers are the head). this is real abundance!
as the internet changes everything (except fredmund malik´s opinion about it), the above fact combined with the (nearly) unlimited possibilities of the net "will transform entire industries - and the culture - for decades to come." (given that quote it was not too difficult for seth godin to write in his blog that "the ideas in this book are going to be talked about for the next ten years. might as well get a copy now. it's worth it." but he is right on point: get a copy now!
on page 217 chris anderson reveals what to do: "the secret to creating a thriving long tail business can be summarized in two imperatives:
1. make everything available.
2. help me find it."
the book´s following pages explain what to do - after you have inhaled the previous 216 pages of profound, elaborate, even entertaining, analysis of our blockbuster-driven economy, advertising and culture.
do not worry: blockbusters in every category "still have unmatched impact. and part of that is their ability to serve as a source of common culture …".
"the finest gear is not going to be among the top sellers …" - because blockbusters search for the most common denominators in the masses of buyers!
"we´re entering an era of radical change for marketers. faith in advertising and the institutions that pay for it is waning, while faith in individuals is on the rise. peers trust peers."
and: "… when consumers talk to themselves … they discover that, collectively, their tastes are far more diverse than the marketing plans being fired at them suggest."
and, even more: "… we´re starting to shift from being passive consumers to active producers". plus: "the explosion of … technologies that connect consumers is what drives demand from the head to the tail."
so, you better do worry, or start thinking about the impact of chris anderson´s book on your own business. read the book, read the blog.
annotation: at sixapart you will be able to chat with chris anderson via skype on monday, 24th of july, 2006.