Long Tails Versus Superstars: The Effect of IT on Product Variety and Sales Concentration Patterns
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
Yu Jeffrey Hu
Georgia Institute of Technology - Scheller College of Business
Michael D. Smith
Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management
September 13, 2010
Information Systems Research, Forthcoming
The Internet and related information technologies are transforming the distribution of product sales across products, and the effects are likely to grow in coming years. Both the Long Tail and the Superstar effect are manifestations of these changes, yet researchers lack consistent metrics or models for integrating and extending their insights and predictions. In this paper, we begin with a taxonomy of the technological and non-technological drivers of both the Long Tails and Superstars and then define and contrast the key metrics for analyzing these phenomena. While significant research has already been done, the core the paper describes a large and promising set of questions forming a research agenda. Important opportunities exist for understanding future changes in product distribution; its impact on supply chains (including cross-channel competition, competition within the Internet channel, implications for the growth of firms, and the balance of power within the supply chain); implications for pricing, promotion and product design; and ultimately potential effects on society more generally. Our approach provides an introduction to some of the relevant research findings and allows us to identify opportunities for cross-pollination of methods and insights from related research topics.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 21
Keywords: Long Tail, Superstar, Product Variety, Sales Concentration, Information Technology
JEL Classification: D69, D83, O30Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: September 13, 2010 ; Last revised: October 1, 2010
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