Get a Clue: Join the Long Tail

Chris Anderson’s “The Long Tail,” made it clear why online businesses/services are more successful than brick-and-mortar businesses services. Granted, I presumed much of the success had to do with instantly receiving the product or service and the lower costs due to the lack of physical space required. However, when I consider myself as a consumer, I realize that I tend to purchase items/services that don’t just “talk in the soothing, humorless monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure, and your-call-is-important-to-us busy signal. Same old tone, same old lies” (Levine, Locke, Searles & Weinberger ,2001).

For example, I tend to use Amazon to purchase easily-shipped items to my rural home (an hour at least from any city with shopping choices other than Walmart). I used to purchase my clothes at a small local JCPenny. However, in the past few years, the internet has become available to almost all in the Driftless Region of Wisconsin, so most of us have chosen to shop online, thus leading to the closing of stores like our local (at least 20 miles away from me) JCPenney in a town of 4,000 people. I imagine delivery/trucking companies are thriving though since packages are not being sent by truckloads to large brick-and-mortar businesses, but are being shipped to homes. This must me true in my area, for I see a UPS  or Spee-dee delivery truck on my road at least twice a day!

In addition to shopping online, I also listen to a local radio station which plays music “on the long tail.” WKPO 105.9 is a local station which claims to play a variety of music and it does! Each DJ chooses what they want to play, so it isn’t a pre-recorded list of hits. I imagine it is for some (based on my listening experience), but some DJs (on-line personalities) really pull from the long tail. For example, Tim Eddy cranks out the obscure music he loves which is a combination of rock, blue grass, funk, folk etc. He doesn’t just play hits, but plays music he enjoys and since he is well-known in the communities he serves, he tries to play what he feels his audience may enjoy, even if not popular elsewhere. Do I turn to another station when he gets on a roll of playing folk? Yes. Do I return? Yes, for I find more new songs/artists I enjoy by listening to his show.  “You can find everything out there on the Long Tail,” and Tim Eddy knows that (Anderson, pg 11)!

Although I do have cable television, I choose to use Netflix and Hulu for my entertainment instead. Like my choice in music, my film interests may be those from the Long Tail. Yes, I enjoy foreign films, independent movies, British television dramas and documentaries in addition to the popular choices such as Shameless etc. Anderson points out that “Netflix has made a good business out of what’s unprofitable fare in movie theaters. . .because it can aggregate dispersed audience,” much like what Amazon and other online businesses are doing. Both Nexflix and Hulu also follow Anderson’s “Rule 3: Help Me Find It,” by making suggestions based on my previous viewing. So, far the suggestions have been very good, so I often go to suggestions instead of searching for new titles to watch. This saves me time and broadens/deepens my interest in film.

Overall, the digital world has broadened my view with diverse options. In addition, it has also enhanced my physical world by allowing me to enjoy life on my hobby farm in rural Southwest Wisconsin and have shopping and services, not normally available here, available to me. In essence, it has saved me time and energy in my physical world, so I can enjoy what that world has to offer: a summer breeze, frolicking goats, changing leaves and golden sunrises.

Posted on October 8, 2017, in Social Media. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Do you ever see regular cars delivering packages? One of my Lyft drivers told me that he also delivers packages for Amazon. A couple weeks later, my husband noted that our Amazon packages were delivered by a “random person,” which he thought was a little weird.

    Walmart is also asking employees to deliver packages to homes after their shifts. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2017/06/01/walmart-is-asking-employees-to-deliver-packages-on-their-way-home-from-work/?utm_term=.3a4581f3149b) I wonder as online retailers continue to expand, if there will be more freelance delivery drivers.

  2. Wow, that is interesting!

  3. I love the radio program example! Lately I’ve been listening to BBC radio programmes [had to use UK spelling!] for the variety of music they play because the stations we have locally are so repetitive and annoying! [I don’t have a car new enough for SiriusFM or anything bluetooth.] They also have a feature on their website to “like” songs that were played and then you can export them to a Spotify playlist. Speaking of Spotify, their “Discover Weekly” algorithms are amazing. Way better than anything Pandora has ever recommended for me! Do others agree?

  4. Online shopping services like Amazon at first drew me in by offering things I could not find in my local stores (obscure cds, especially – which are now even more available via download). As I have gotten accustomed to shopping online (and lured by the free shipping with Amazon Prime), I find myself more inclined to order everyday items as well, even though there are plenty of places to shop in my area. I still prefer to try clothes on before I buy them, but as long as return shipping is free, I will likely be more willing to buy online. I may not have a choice, eventually, as brick-and-mortar department stores continue to close.

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