Health and The Long Tail: How It Can Apply

People in the marketing world spend quite a bit of time thinking about how to best meet the needs of their customers. At least they should be if they want to keep those customers and develop a long term relationship with them. The astute marketers have begun investigating the concept of “The Long Tail” and seeing how they can provide the choice people are seeking.

In a nutshell, part of the concept of “the long tail” is that while a there are a few things that appeal to most people (or that everyone wants), there are a great number of indvidual items that only appeal to a few people. For a more thorough investigation, pick up a copy of Chris Anderson’s book “The Long Tail”.

So how does this concept apply to health?

We can safely say that most people want to feel good and spend as little time visiting doctors and hospitals as possible. That’s a fairly common goal. The differentiation begins when we look at how to get there. Since statistics show that a growing number of people have weight related health issues, that can be the example of a high demand topic in the health arena.

But not everyone has challenges with their weight. There are actually some people who don’t eat enough to meet thier basic nutritional needs. This group of people may need to meet their goal of “better health” by taking a multivitamin. Since this is something that most physicians are recommending anyway, it’s still a high demand area that appeals to many individuals.

As we move further into areas of “self guided” health improvement we find people who are interested in things like Omega-3 Fatty Acids, CoQ-10 supplements, and immune boosting supplements. Many of the alternative health enthusiasts who actively seek out methods for improving health on their own still consider these topics mainstream. Going into more obscure treatments and supplements, you will find that the demand really never gets to zero, but there are still people who find an interest.

Things like juice fasting, self-performed enemas, and certain types of supplements will just not appeal to the vast majority of people, but there are those who swear by the effectiveness of those methods. Now, as a business that caters to a natural health demographic, it would be quite difficult to fully meet the needs of the people in the mass market area of the curve (those just looking for a multivitamin) and the needs of a person looking for the extract of a rare plant with medicinal properties.

Fortunately we can use the concept of the long tail to show that by focusing on one area (weight loss, for example) and providing many methods to allow people to reach that goal, there will be a demand regardless of how obscure a method is developed. No one thing will appeal to everyone, but everyone has something that will appeal to them.

Part of the long tail concept is that while a large number of customers will be satisified by just a few of the more popular solutions, the total number of people satisfied by an array of the less popular solutions can exceed the numbers at the “popular solution” end of the list. So instead of becoming a “Wal-Mart” of health solutions, which is a mile wide and few inches deep, the best service can be given to customers by focusing on one area and exploring all of the choices in that niche.

By focusing on that one area, a person can be perceived as an authority with the resources to meet the needs of the customer, regardless of how obscure the solutions become. There are more people than solutions, so no matter how many solutions are found, there will be someone for whom that is the perfect match.