Just because the Internet makes it possible to offer a near-infinite inventory of goods for sale does not mean that consumers will start wanting more obscure items in any great numbers. That is the conclusion Harvard Business School associate professor Anita Elberse comes to in a recent article in the Harvard Business Review that takes on some of the sacred cows of the Long Tail theory.
The Long Tail is Wired editor Chris Andersons theory (based on an article and resulting book of the same name) that as it becomes easier to distribute a wider variety of items, consumers will venture down the long tail of the distribution curve and find the products that exactly match their interests and idiosyncratic needs. Elberse questions this notion:
Is most of the business in the long tail being generated by a bunch of iconoclasts determined to march to different drummers? The answer is a definite no. Read the full article from tech crunch here.