Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Long Tail, Freakonomics, and MicroTrends: What do they have in common?

In the past month I have been reading rather interesting books that seem to have a relationship between them, or at least similar influences. The first one that I read was “The Long Tail” by Chris Anderson.

The concept presented by Chris is rather simple (or may be he has done a very good job of explaining it): technology (digitization of audio & video content, on-line distribution channel with infinite shelf-capacity, recommendation engines, search & discovery capabilities) has opened opportunity for content that is serves the ‘niches’ rather than the mass. As Chris explains, instead of “the Billboard Top 40’ gave way to several top forties for various different genres…

Chris also talks about ‘physical’ products that may not have the same attributes (virtual) such as MP3 songs, but are the long tail. The Long Tail started out with the editorial piece put out by Chris and a very good review of it is available here (on Wikipedia).

So, the essence is to sell less of more - marketing to the niches of peoples (read: communities based on shared tastes and likes)!

The next one is, Microtrends by Mark J. Penn, which I started reading a week ago. The book is all-about niches, niches of people. The book itself can be browsed in any sequence, and that’s exactly what I am doing. Each chapter is about a group of people driven by common themes/demographics/tastes (sounds familiar?). For example, ‘Internet Marrieds’ are the people who hooked up on the Web and got married or ‘Social Geeks’. There are about 75 of such categories. Mark has talked about the impact of the rising numbers of such groups and what impact it may have on the society and of course, how to market to them. The final chapter, ‘Conclusion’ gets into all the contradictions that are faced by the society today

Moving on is the book by the economist Steven Levitt – “Freakonomics” – a book on (economics-based) motivation of day to day behavior of people. A great example provided by Steven is the example on real estate agents when they are selling your house and how contrary to normal thinking, they may not be acting on your behalf. So, the book is economics of the daily life (or should I say daily grind). It is also, in a way, Bear that thought, I am going to tie it all together….

The books are all about personalization and niches and the individual … they remind of the cover of the Time that at the Person of the Year as You! and was also mentioned in one of my earlier posts.

Microtrends is about micro-communities – or communities revolving around niches, The Long Tail is about how the market, the economy would be impacted by marketing to the niches, and Freaknomics is how to study the impact of these day-to-day happening communities and niches and what implications they may have.

Would love to hear from the reader, am I dreaming or there is some common link/pattern between the three of them?