Marketing Strategy: Focusing on the Longtail

Marketing Strategy: Focusing on the Longtail

By implementing a longtail strategy to target an infinite number of niche markets, your business can have mass reach and penetration.

Having a marketing strategy is important to your business. Traditionally, marketers focused on targeting the most popular products to the masses. However, as the market has become more fragmented, it has become more challenging to achieve mass reach.

One way to address the challenge of a fragmented market is to adopt what’s called a “longtail strategy.” What does that mean? Why would you go in that direction? And if you do, how do you leverage such a strategy?

Defining the Longtail Strategy

Targeting a market niche is a common competitive strategy for smaller businesses that cannot compete with the market leader or market follower. Putting together a large number of niche markets—which can even combine to compose a volume greater than the volume of a single mass market—is called a “longtail strategy.”

Large companies and brick-and-mortar retailers focus on the head of the demand curve with the most popular items and services. However, this method has physical restraints. There are only twenty-four hours of television programming in a day, only a certain number of cinema screens, and limited shelf space in stores. These constraints force traditional companies to offer only what they believe will be popular products for the widest population of people.

Without the need for brick-and-mortar stores with expensive real-estate costs and limited manufacturing capabilities, online retailers such as, Hulu, iTunes, and Craigslist can focus on the longtail by offering a large selection of unique and less popular items in larger quantities.

When consumers are offered an infinite choice, people gravitate toward niches, as products tailored to their preferences better satisfy their needs.

Should You Target the Longtail?

Could focusing on the longtail market be a smart move for your company?

Longtail strategy has two primary benefits:

  1. Volume: By featuring a higher number of options of less popular products or markets, you can reach a larger number of consumer segments than companies focused on the head of the demand curve.
  2. Less competition: Most traditional companies focus on high-demand products, markets, and services. By aiming toward the longtail market, you fulfill the needs of a unique group and face minimum competition.

However, longtail strategies have two primary cons worth weighing as well:

  1. Time-intensive: Looking after a high number of niche markets can consume incredible amounts of time.
  2. Complicated messaging: Crafting marketing messages becomes complicated when you try to reach multiple distinct groups of people.

How to Leverage Longtail Strategy

If you decide to move forward with a longtail strategy, keep these best practices in mind:

  • Availability: Aim to make all the products you offer available at all times—and offer a wide array of products. A longtail strategy is all about offering a volume of niche options.
  • Low-cost: Often, niche products and services are more expensive due to limited availability. After all, for many traditional retailers focused on the mass market, stocking niche items is risky and expensive. Companies that target a longtail strategy should provide the best possible prices for their offerings. An added benefit: Customers may then buy more.
  • Searchable: Help people find your products. Make suggestions. For example, suggests products that you might also like, and the options it lists often are more niche than the mainstream. This technique keeps consumers discovering and trying increasing numbers of niche products.

Need business strategy and marketing advice? Contact FrogDog.

Image courtesy of jscreationzs/

Posted: Apr 17, 2015
Updated: Oct 09, 2019
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