The Unpopular Are Starting To Matter

This week I looked at the transition from the hit driven model of legacy media to the aggregation of niche markets online. Traditionally, business have been business and needed to make money to exist, this meant that physical stores, whether they were book stores, film stores, music stores, etc. needed to pick and choose the products they sold in order to fit it within the physical limitation of the store. Generally stores stuck to the top 20% of their particular market. Now that the internet, the cloud and networking is becoming more prominent, online stores are thriving. How? A combination of essentially no physical space limitations, global access and the ability to sell whatever anyone wants. If your store holds practically anything and almost anyone can buy from you, your store will provide not only the top 20% of the market content but all the other things that consumers really want because you can’t get it elsewhere. This phenomenon of “the other things” being sold at great abundance and success is known as The long tail effect.

So Many Books, So Little Access Limitations

An excellent example of niche markets rising in popularity can be seen in self publishing books. As Rita Rosenkranz said, “because of the stigma of self-publishing very good stuff was locked out by mainstream publishers.” this meant that business having to pick and choose what will sell and what won’t meant that not well known books were ignored and the popular books became more popular. This is no longer the case. Online stores such as Amazon have allowed authors to publish their own books for next to no cost so anyone can publish their own works and all these works are available to buy because there is no space restriction. In one year sales have risen dramatically due to consumers buying cheap, self published books and discovering new interests and new authors.

Globalizing Media Industries

The long tail effect doesn’t just benefit online companies, it’s great for consumers as well. Personally, I like watching Japanese Anime and Dramas, I listen to a lot of foreign and independent music and watch a lot of independent films, so an industry market where only ‘the hits’ are available to buy would be distressing. Fortunately, The internet is global and not subject to national limitations as well as experiencing the long tail effect. Consumers such as myself are able to get the content we want that isn’t normally available.

The cost of products is heavily influenced by supply and demand, because digital media can be mass produced and distributed online without physical materials it can be sold very cheaply especially when compared to niche products that a traditional store may hold a very limited number of copies in stock.

The Battle Of The Old And The Online

There is some resistance from traditional business’ in the media industry against online markets that stems from the idea that if a product can be copied infinitely it is practically worthless. There are ways around this though, making products more unique, a necessity or (Controversially) incomplete, such as early release video games and software. Hopefully as online stores report increasing sales, the resistance will lessen and consumers will have more freedom to access the content we want  with relative ease for the producers.



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9 thoughts on “The Unpopular Are Starting To Matter”

  1. Awesome blog, I love the way you’ve formatted it. Nice and easy to read. An interesting question is whether you’d personally buy a copy of a book (think Top 10) online even if it’s sitting in a bookshop.
    I think a lot of people find who are often online find it easier to throw it together on Amazon. I also notice that the people in bookshops are usually older people who I’m assuming don’t have the digital fluency that makes Amazon such a great alternative.
    I wonder if it says something about society’s attitude: that the physical shop, the smell of books, the customer service and the coffee on the way out isn’t enough to make us go in to a shop and buy books.
    Anyway, I really enjoyed your blog 🙂

  2. I have to second the last comment, the readability of your blog is great. Good format, and broken up to read quickly and easily. It would be nice to see you to touch on the concept of produsage, I think it would tie really well into this blog. Good job!

  3. Agreed, the formatting is really simple, way to go with the sub headings! Just a heads up though (perhaps being a little picky), there were a couple of grammatical errors.

    Good point on Internet stores having no space restrictions, I neglected to consider that.

    I think it might’ve been beneficial to have looked at the cultural contexts of buying products online, or maybe briefly mention the downside of online purchasing – take something like this for example

    All in all though, it was really nice and easy to read, and you made some good points, good hussle!

  4. Knockout blog Ralphie. I really enjoyed reading your post this week, as your phrasing is really easy to follow and very as both previous comments mentioned, the subheadings are a fantastic format tool.
    This was a well rounded post that really nailed the topic this week, there were heaps of angles you could have taken to discuss the long tail effect and the ideals of an attention economy, and your post had a great overview with personal experiences. The example of Amazon is just so prominent to this new paradigm. If you are interested, this link is useful to put Amazon’s size into perspective –
    It was as though you were speaking from our generation to the older, to explain what is happening. Identifying that the long tail doesn’t just benefit companies but the consumer as well is a great point and something that is well reflected throughout your blog.

  5. You explain the long tail effect in a simple and concise way. It is not overly verbose or convoluted. I agree with you personally as a consumer I also enjoy this new variety that the internet provides. The previous limitations that hindered the availability of goods has been removed. Niche markets conversely are becoming more popular. You also present a positive outlook on this mass distribution. With greater accessibility to showcase work, the best of this work is on display as shown from the quote by Rita Rosenkranz. Good Job !

  6. I enjoyed this blog as I feel you have covered nearly every aspect of the subject this week, using very relevant examples to back up what you were saying. My favourite part of The Long Tail effect is how niche products have become more available, and therefore, more popular. Us as customers no longer have to feel forced to enjoy mainstream books/movies/products due it it being the only thing available.
    However, I found a handful of grammar mistakes that could use tidying up, and you should definitely add a reference list (if you can) to strengthen the credibility of your post. Other then that, great post, especially the format. It definitely is easy to read.

  7. Great post! The sub-headings make it easy to digest the words and keep it entertaining. The niche market of self-publishers is a great example of the long tail effect. It’s common for people to buy from popular publishers and ignore the small time fish. But the genre connection from recommendations such as Amazon definitely gives self-publishers the exposure they need for a small price. It will be interesting to see the different ways self-publishers can promote their work to compete with major publishers.

  8. This post highlighted a lot of great key points in the topic! I loved your formatting style, that was a valuable decision in ensuring readers understood the entirety of the points you made. The basis for the long-tail effect to work, is the notion of attention. What does attention follow and how can it be sustained. The best point you raised was towards the end regarding how business can better tailor their niche content in order to gain a stronger following.
    I think this is the foundation of promoting content outside the legacy media’s interest and to enable content producers from all corners of the spectrum to gain a sustainable following rather than what global giants find to be of value to the wider public.

  9. Really enjoyed how you have explained the long tail effect whilst including some good examples. You’ve made it quite clear with the example like Amazon, that they are great benefits which we as the consumer are obtaining. The freedom and availability of choices online are far too hard to quash for the old. Web 2.0 has really brought some great opportunities for consumers.

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