Long Tails Versus Superstars: The Effect of IT on Product Variety and Sales Concentration Patterns

Information Systems Research, Forthcoming

21 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2010 Last revised: 1 Jul 2014

Erik Brynjolfsson

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

Date Written: September 13, 2010

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Long Tail, Superstar, Product Variety, Sales Concentration, Information Technology

JEL Classification: D69, D83, O30

Suggested Citation

Brynjolfsson, Erik and Hu, Yu Jeffrey and Smith, Michael D., Long Tails Versus Superstars: The Effect of IT on Product Variety and Sales Concentration Patterns (September 13, 2010). Information Systems Research, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1676368

Erik Brynjolfsson

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )

E53-313
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-4319 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://digital.mit.edu/erik

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Yu Jeffrey Hu

Georgia Institute of Technology - Scheller College of Business ( email )

800 West Peachtree St.
Atlanta, GA 30308
United States

Michael D. Smith (Contact Author)

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.heinz.cmu.edu/~mds

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