Long Tail Marketing - what does it mean? It means going where others haven't and serving more smaller, niche customer segments with needs yet to be fulfilled instead of focusing all your ammunition in one market.
It is where you focus on a large number of products and offerings, with each selling in low volumes.
Most people focus on what's popular and what everybody else wants, but there are smaller segments that have not been catered to yet, and the long-tail strategy aims to cater to and serve these smaller segments.
Real Life Application: Influencer Marketing
Most brands want to contract the most popular influencers like the Kendall and Kylies of the world, but each of them can cost well into the $300,000 - $400,000 range to post one post on their Instagram.
Now, if you went long-tail, and targeted smaller bloggers and influencers with the same budget, used effectively, you could see more responses, since these smaller bloggers tend to work harder and care more about how your product / brand is portrayed. Their incentive is to get more contracts, more sponsorships, whereas for a celebrity, they may already have these contracts in place and won't work as hard for you. In this case, using the long-tail strategy of targeting up and coming bloggers instead of big names could generate as big as a response for you, at a more efficient cost.
Real Life Application: Health Conscious Products
The Long-Tail strategy could also be a great method to identify upcoming trends that could grow and become mainstream and profitable, such as with health conscious groceries and products - a market Whole Foods Market owned when they started on September 20, 1980. Back then, most people didn't care to eat healthier, gluten-free or lactose-free.
With the consumer makeup skewing towards more people over 60 for the next decade and the increase attention people pay to their health, there are a many companies who have launched products and services targeted to these health conscious consumers - such as lactose free, gluten-free products. 'Super foods' are popping up everywhere, integrated into smoothies and culinary recipes. A few years ago, companies serving these consumers were pursuing a long tail strategy, but as consumers have evolved, the trend to eat healthy has slowly become more mainstream. This is a case where a long-tail strategy could evolve into a bigger market over time as consumer tastes change.
I believe every market goes through periods where small independents pop up to challenge the status quo, then the big conglomerates purchase these small companies for a period of consolidation, and then the next wave of innovation comes to challenge the status quo again. The long-tail strategy is a good way to spot new / upcoming needs, often appearing in niche markets at first that are not profitable for large companies to serve.
How will you make the long-tail business model work for you?