The long tail refers to a business model that allows a large number of niche products or services to be sold, often through the internet. This model allows individuals or small businesses to sell products or services that were previously only available from larger, more established firms or professionals. The long tail model can create a market for products or services that appeal to a small number of consumers, but that collectively make up a large portion of the market. Because the long tail model allows for the sale of a wide range of niche products and services, it can often dominate industries by catering to a larger and more diverse group of consumers. The following are common examples.
Markets for people to rent their homes, apartments and vacation properties. Represents a major market relative to hotels.
Forums, blogs and wikis that allow enthusiasts to share knowledge.
Search engines are a foundational technology that allow small contributors to reach an audience. Without search, customers would need to go directly to a media outlet to get information.
Vehicle sharing markets as opposed to car rental shops.
A market for ride sharing. Competes with licensed taxis.
A crowdsourced design for a company logo as opposed to hiring an advertising agency or graphic design firm.
Crowdsourced media such as promotional videos for music.
A photo sharing site as a source for images as opposed to hiring a professional photographer and models.
Self-publishing companies that allow anyone to publish and distribute a book and ebook.
A platform that allows individual sellers.
An electronic marketplace for used items, art and collectables.
A site that connects freelancers in a variety of professions to clients.
A video sharing site with revenue sharing from advertising. Allows independent producers to distribute their works to compete with large entertainment companies.
Restaurant reviews from thousands of customers as opposed to a single review from a professional food critic.
Computing platforms that use the collective resources of people’s devices as opposed to centralized cloud infrastructure.
Crowdsourcing the design of products such as t-shirts or more complex items such as sportswear.
Contests to achieve a result such as developing a big idea in advertising.
An agricultural method of saving naturally occurring non-GMO seeds and sharing them as opposed to obtaining seeds from large biotechnology firms.
Funding a project or venture by raising money from a large number of people as an alternative to bank loans.
Word of Mouth
Communication or marketing that is spread from person to person using platforms such as social media. Provides incentives to firms to deliver a crowd-pleasing product or service.
Solving problems in fields such as healthcare by asking a large number of people to answer a survey.
Solving computationally complex problems by asking users to donate computing time by installing a screen saver that activates when a device is idle. For example, the SETI@home program uses donated computing cycles to search for extraterrestrial intelligence in radio signals.