If you are familiar with the Long Tail by Chris Anderson, then I have an interesting example for you. This is the story of how one Swedish guy is trying to use the long tail to his advantage and how the long tail can work for you.
Let me give you a very short definition of the long tail as I found it using Wikipedia:
products that are in low demand or have low sales volume can collectively make up a market share that rivals or exceeds the relatively few current bestsellers and blockbusters, if the store or distribution channel is large enough
Now, let me give you the example of the Swedish guy. I found the story at the January edition of the Swedish magazine Internet World.
His name is Fredrik Hammarqvist and he is the man behind Grand Shoes, an online store selling shoes for people with large feet (sizes 47–52, probably size 13 and above US).
There are probably thousands of websites where you can buy shoes online, but only a very few where you can buy shoes from size 13 and above. There are even hard to get nice shoes at regular (offline) shoe stores if you have size 13 or more.
The point is this; almost any shoe store offer shoes for people with “normal” size feet, and it would be rather hard to compete online and maybe offline if Fredrik Hammarqvist wanted to sell ordinary size shoes.
But when he applies long tail marketing which says something like; shoes in low demand, will not have priority at other shoe stores, because there are not enough space to fit shoes that are in low demand and if they have large size shoes they probably don’t have that many brands and nice looking shoes and so on (because they are really a shoe store for all the rest of us).
Now, when he is only focusing on the few percentages of Swedes with size 13 and above, he can offer many brands and cool looking shoes. He did his research and there are (hopefully) enough people with size 13 and above for him to make a nice profit. The idea is great and it seems that he knows how to promote himself and his store.
One of the first things he did after he launched the website was to write a letter to all the basketball teams in Sweden, it was about 400. He did it to promote his store, and because he knew that a lot of basketball players have big size feet (I agree, that was a smart move). And he is also using Google AdWords every month.
I like the idea of his store, and I really think that the long tail marketing thing will work, especially if there are enough people that will buy shoes online. I was a little sceptical at first, because I have never bought any shoes online, and I can’t really imagine bying shoes online either. But on the other hand, if I couldn’t get shoes anywhere else, I would probably buy some at Grand Shoes.
I can relate it to me being a vegetarian. That’s not really about long tail marketing (anymore), but in Norway it’s really difficult to find good vegetarian food anywhere. That’s why I have been searching everywhere online to find quality products, and the only places I can find them are online, because I am not going to travel anywhere far to buy the products (and that would probably be too expensive as well).
If you are in need for something, you will buy it where ever you can find it. And I bet a lot of Swedish people are really happy to have heard of Grand Shoes. But when I visited the website, I can’t see if he is offering shoes for people outside Sweden. I can’t find any other languages than Swedish, but I guess he is probably offering his shoes to people in Scandinavia as well, because it would be weird if he didn’t.