Profiting in the Long Tail

Kevin Kelly points out that it’s quite common to hear a flip in explanations of the long tail when people move from left to right where best sellers and popular successful niche products are explained from the perspective of the product developer while the longest tail products are described more from the perspective of the aggregator. It gives the assumption that the products are not actually profitable for anyone other than the Amazon’s of the world who can make money off the products in aggregate while the creators of the long tail products are largely forgotten.

Personally, I don’t think this is the case. Many long tail products and services fall into different categories that also have low volume sales yet are extremely profitable. Very high end products, custom products, and niche consulting all come to mind. If you’re doing something with huge margins due to customization or specialization, you’ll have a hard time scaling your product or service, but you probably won’t need to in order to consider your business a success.

The important thing is to simply understand your market potential and where your offering falls on the long tail.

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