The Apprentice meets the Long Tail

June 7, 2011

Last week’s Apprentice asked contestants to create and brand a new pet food product. Team Venture chose to manufacture a type of cat food designed to keep felines trim and healthy, with their rivals, Team Logic, bringing their canine expertise to bear on a dog food suitable for any pooch, with the imaginative title of ‘Every Dog’. Team Logic put together a quirky ad, but when it came to the crunch, the one-fits-all approach just wasn’t good enough. Their efforts fell short, branded ‘tragic’ by the show’s host, the pugnacious Alan Sugar. It’s not the first time a new product targeting a broad market has come acropper.

In the ‘Long Tail’  Chris Anderson points out the importance of offering niche products in small quantities. The growth of online retailing provides evidence for the success of this type of business model. There’s now an array of products from a huge number of websites. Something out there to suit every need, or so it appears. Amazon attributes much of its success to its ability to offer obscure titles that bricks-and-mortar stores just don’t have space to stock. New marketing techniques such as PPC and viral marketing across social networks are also seemingly better suited to niche products than traditional advertising.

Despite a wider range of tailored products, the popularity of mass-consumed goods continues unfettered. In a previous post, Tim pointed out that certain products, Coke and Ford cases in point, have yet to lose their mass appeal after decades of first being launched. A one-fits-all product is fine – if there’s a gap in the market. Which there wasn’t for ‘Every Dog’. Maybe next time, Alan Sugar’s would-be Apprentices should listen to what their focus groups have to say.

-Carly

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