Our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of "hits" (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail. As the costs of production and distribution fall, especially online, there is now less need to lump products and consumers into one-size-fits-all containers. In an era without the constraints of physical shelf space and other bottlenecks of distribution, narrowly-target goods and services can be as economically attractive as mainstream fare.
In other words, little is the new big.
Now, there’s plenty to argue about when it comes to the notion of The Long Tail, and if you head over to Chris’ blog, you can read all the debates. But when it comes to gardening, the idea fits. After all, gardening is inherently local and inherently specialized. If you’re in Sacramento, you might be much more interested in what Angela at Sacramento Gardening has to say than what the latest issue of Better Homes & Gardens has to say. If you’re into growing your own vegetables in a community garden, you’re going to check out somebody like Jane Perrone at Horticultural. Are you into carnivorous plants? Orchids? Bugs? Do you prefer your bloggers to be organic or beyond organic? City or country? Doesn’t matter; there’s a blog for you. And if there’s not, you’ll probably just start your own.
But that’s not all. There’s also the fact that when you’re putting on a national gardening show, or publishing a magazine or even a syndicated gardening column, there’s just a tremendous amount of watering-down that goes on. Do we make this really simple for beginners? Do we make it more sophisticated for our hard-core audience? And most important, how do we keep the advertisers happy?
Bloggers, on the other hand, don’t worry about any of that. So are we better off getting our gardening media from the great unwashed blogging masses? Will garden bloggers push and pull the garden media and horticultural industry until it conforms to our wishes? Or is this just another blip? Stay tuned.