Long Tail vs. Golden Arches

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I read Seth Godin’s We Are All Weird this afternoon.  Highly recommended — in fewer than 100 pages, Seth covers how the end of mass marketing affects business, politics, education, and more.

We can see these ideas at work in the McDonald’s vs. Chipotle faceoff.  Why does McDonald’s flounder while Chipotle excites?

One common explanation is the perception that Chipotle is healthier than McDonald’s.  I’m not sure that explains it — think about places like Five Guys, which sell even greasier burgers, are doing great.

The difference is “weirdness.”  McDonald’s may be the only restaurant chain left that targets the mass market alone.

A custom order at McDonald’s is the exception, not the norm.  Order by number and take a number.  Compare this to Chipotle — where you name your order, and the order has your name.

Vegetarian?  Chipotle: great — try the tofu bowl!  McDonald’s: Hope you like french fries.

This is hardly a new theory, but reading We Are All Weird drove home the importance of targeting the “long tail” in today’s economy.

Time for McDonald’s to focus on the “long tails” of those Golden Arches.

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