Why I love the Amazon-Whole Foods Deal! Posted on 20 Jun 08:51
If you saw my TED talk from a couple of years ago you know that I basically blame the 'Grocery Store' for creating the monstrous agriculture system in this country that's devastated our rural economies.
So I was super joyful to see Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods as a huge step forward for American Small Diversified Farmers because this is going to drive Grocery Shopping Online.
Why? Because of a phenomenon known as The Long Tail.
The Long Tail is an internet phenomenon coined by Chris Anderson about a decade ago and described as:
"The theory of the Long Tail is that 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."
If you put this in the context of recorded music it's pretty easy to understand. There used to be these things called record stores. They historically were small urban discovery zones and then morphed into record superstores like Best Buy and Virgin Megastores....If you wanted to buy a song, you had to hop in your car and visit one of these. The issue was that they 'Curated' what music you listened to. Even with a giant selections, they could only house a couple thousand songs.
Along comes iTunes and suddenly this entire model is disrupted and we all have millions of songs at our fingertips. This has been terrible for the mega stores, but amazing for consumers.
The other huge beneficiary has been musicians. Think about it....in the olden days (15 years ago) if you were a musician trying to make a living you either became a mega star or you starved. If you weren't big you were starving. There was no middle ground....no room for a musician who perhaps only made a decent living...
My 20-something kids now listen and attend concerts around the country by bands that most people have never heard of; Twiddle, Jill Andrews, Walk on the Moon, Future & The Wood Brothers.
All of these bands wouldn't have professional careers if customers weren't listening and paying for their songs online. That's the long tail. I would be suprised if all of these acts are bringing in revenue in the low millions (another great internet band)
What does this have with food and farming?
Everything. Grocery shopping is the last area of retail that is moving online and you are going to see the exact same opportunities for small producers for a bunch of reasons....
- I'm no longer tied to a store so I'll have unlimited choice. I can buy my soap from Dove, and still buy my meat from Tyner Pond Farm.
- There is no such thing as a LIST. Think about it. If you were going to the grocery store you only want to make one trip. If you are online you buy as you need it. Run out of Catsup? You order Catsup now. You're not going to wait until Saturday when you have a bunch of other stuff...that behavior is over. Every purchase will be one off and come from the vendors you choose....and I'm guessing most people are going to want to choose the best quality locally sourced products they can afford.
And I'm celebrating.