During a couple of years, I more and more often stuck upon the reviews of small local coffee shops, low budget series and almost garage bands in relatively influential media. This can be nothing else but the sign of the major cultural break and the change in our information distribution system, I believed. And it was the right clue. How the book “The Longer Long Tail” by the Wired editor Chris Anderson shows, the boom of niche culture is actually what happens since the Web 2.0 concept was introduced.
The theory which the author studies is relatively simple: while there are few highly influential hits on Top positions in charts of any industry from music, movies, literature to computer software, fashion or chocolate, there are also much more narrowly targeted products and companies which compete for the market share. However, these smaller producers and products do not appeal to the mass audience, but stay in their own area, covering very niche interests. The Long Tail is the market of niches, which becomes easily accessible for the wider audience via the Internet.
“Bringing niches within reach reveals latent demand for noncommercial content. Then, as demand shifts toward the niches, the economics of provided them improve further, and so on, creating a positive feedback loop that will transform entire industries – and the culture – for decades to come” – Chris Anderson, The Longer Long Tail: How endless choice is creating unlimited demand
As the concept can seem simple and easy to detect in almost any industry, the book is the brilliant reading because of first hands comments from industry’s insiders, real statistics and some generalizing laws Anderson found. I enjoyed reading each page and can’t put my pencil away as each two pages contain the though I wanted to underline and save in my memory.
Moreover, while the author considers his own research quite niche and puts it in popular economics section, I would rather say it’s a must-read for all communication experts. For me, the most important idea of the whole book was the new power of word-of-mouth, which kills traditional marketing and advertising. Now word-of-mouth is the digital discussions, ratings, blog posts and comments, it’s generated by thousands of users and read by millions. Furthermore, it is the heap of independent opinions – both from experts and amateurs – and the organizations can’t control it. Going deeper into the science of the long tail, I was trying to answer for myself how should the new communication strategy in the new market conditions look like. The major points I got: it should be experience-centric, providing opinions, transparent, engaging and always learning from the public.
“In a world of infinite choice, context—not content—is king”― Chris Anderson, The Longer Long Tail: How endless choice is creating unlimited demand
Being a geek today does not mean you can’t be a cool or influential guy, it’s just about finding the right audience. Niche culture gives us more opportunities for satisfaction and self-development, that’s why it’s so important to understand where to find it and how to use it more effectively.
“If the twentieth-century entertainment industry was about hits, the twenty-first will be equally about niches. <…> Many of our assumptions about popular taste are actually artifacts of poor supply-and-demand matching – a market response to inefficient distribution.” – Chris Anderson, The Longer Long Tail: How endless choice is creating unlimited demand