The easy definition would be: “the opposite of the long tail theory”, but nothing is that easy and it wouldn’t be completely correct.
The long tail theory from the early days of the internet (2000+) claimed 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.”
It has its observations on retailers, manufacturers and consumers.
As for consumers, the long tail theory suggests that: “When consumers are offered infinite choice, the true shape of demand is revealed. And it turns out to be less hit-centric than we thought. People gravitate towards niches because they satisfy narrow interests better, and in one aspect of our life or another we all have some narrow interest”.
We would love to think of ourselves as people with “narrow interests”, wouldn’t we? Meaning that we all have “unique niche interest” meaning that we are all … unique and interesting.
But are we really? Think about it for a minute. We will get back to it later.
As for retailers and manufacturers it suggested that “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. ”
The long tail theory might work for retailers (Amazon, iTunes, Netflix etc’) but does it really work for manufacturers? Is it really what the consumers want?
Well… probably not.
This is where the “short head theory” begins.
It continues with observations on the real current status of the head (let’s say for now that it is far from “short”) and with explanations on how it has grown that big so fast (let’s say for now that the social media had something to do with it).
From movies to music to consumer electronics… it happens everywhere.
The tails are longer but the heads are much higher.
This is “the short head”