You may be familiar with the book, "The Long Tail," by Chris Anderson. I learned about it at a week-long AIGA session at Harvard School of Business from a classmate. He happened to work at Exact Target and was very up on the trend (Hey, Ryan!). For those of you who haven't read it yet: it's about the phenomenon of businesses like Amazon.com and Netflix, who are able to sell a greater volume of rare or difficult to find items at small volumes than of popular items at large volumes. It's all about operations and distribution -- a strong model can allow for this situation to be financially feasible.
I hadn't considered the impact to the world of branding, until I read "The Elongating Tail of Brand Communication," by Mohammad Iqbal (from ChangeThis.com). The manifesto points out that "by dramatically lowering the costs of connecting supply and demand, the recent explosion and fragmentation of media is changing not just the numbers, but the entire nature of the market." Mohammad questions the single-minded brand proposition in this future world. He states that "in a world of media abundance the single-minded brand proposition is an anachronism." It's a wise observation and one definitely worth pondering.