Recognize Strategic Opportunities with Long-Tail Data

Summary: Be a strategic thinker by recognizing opportunities at scale with seemingly small and insignificant data.

Years ago, if you wanted to purchase a new shirt or book, you had to visit a store and pick among the available products for sale. Discovering a new band meant listening to the radio, attending concerts, buying a tape or CD, or asking friends. Those with niche tastes had a problem — they could settle for what was available, look up a specialist vendor in the phone book, or buy nothing at all.

When you plot sales data, it typically takes the form of a power-law distribution , composed of a head containing a small number of dominant products and a long tail spanning a large number of rarely sold products .

Definition: The l ong tail refers to the data points at the trailing end of a power-law distribution. A long-tail strategy involves efficiently exploiting these low-impact — but numerous — data points for an aggregated benefit.

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