Marketing Idea No. 107 – The power of solo, single minded distribution

In a mind blowing book called “The Long Tail”, Chris Anderson talked about how the power of “hits & blockbusters” are eroding and how the power of the “small”, “combined” can outwit, outperform and outlast the big. 

This was demonstrated in a small distributional battle only a few days ago. And the big almighty in music, also known as Billboard magazine, had to bow down to the pressure of “The Long Tail”. 

What happened is that after taking into account the sales of all their traditional channels, Billboard magazine declared that the new Britney Spears album was their new Number 1 album of the week. But immediately afterwards, in an unprecedented move, Billboard changed their top album list and made the new album of Eagles as the new Number 1 album. So what happened to enforce this change? 

What happened is that Billboard takes into account the sales in all the traditional channels, but not the sales that take place through Wal-mart. But over the years Wal-Mart has emerged as the big player in music distribution, and more importantly Eagles chose Wal-mart to be their solo distributional channel. So once Billboard was forced into taking into account the sales made through Wal-mart, they found out that Eagles album was sold 711,000 copies in 6 days only in Wal-mart compared to the 300,000 that Britney sold!

So reluctantly but inevitable they had to change their “hit calculation” model as well as the reigning Number 1 album in billboard.  That in short shows how we can never deny the power of the small….even when its as insignificant as one single distribution channel. What it takes is one distributional effectiveness to outperform the entire market.

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