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Alexandra Erin @alexandraerin
, 25 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
As long as I'm talking about economics, let me explain something that I am going to call, for lack of a better term, The Market Leader Fallacy. Maybe somebody's got a better name for it, I don't know. It's a thing I noticed, I'm probably not the first one.
So, the entitlement behind things like Gamergate and Sad/Rabid Puppies and Remake The Last Jedi and all that, to the extent that it has a rationale, goes something like this:
"We are the biggest demographic so the most money to be had is in catering to us. Everybody wants to make the most money so any rational content creator would cater to us. If it is irrational not to cater to us, anyone not catering to us is evidence of something nefarious."
Back when I was trying to argue with individual gamergators, I had conversations that wound up verbatim in the same place, with the gator arguing that it just didn't make sense to make a video game for The Gays or The Women or anyone else they thought was a minority market.
I would explain again and again the principle of the Long Tail, or how much easier it was to compete for the money of an underserved niche than to try to fight over the same pile of money, larger though it might be, that "everyone else" wanted a piece of.
The few of them who got it thought that if my argument were true, *everyone* would be trying to make games for The Gays. The concept that different people might be marketing towards different segments was just unthinkable, apparently.
I see this as an outgrowth of the idea that conflicting ideas MUST fight out until one of them wins and the other loses, what I call the "thunderdome of ideas" concept, but which is usually referred to as the "marketplace of ideas".
An actual marketplace has a lot of different things to suit a lot of different needs. If it doesn't, it's not a marketplace. It's... Spatula City.
Anyway. The Market Leader Fallacy is the idea that if one thing is more profitable than another thing, the most profit is in pursuing that one thing exclusively.
We could imagine a ridiculously exaggerated parable where a supermarket gets a new manager who discovers that, say, canned corn makes them more money than creamed corn, and so replaces all the creamed corn with canned corn to drive up profits.
To the manager's alarm, though, profits actually fail. They don't sell much more canned corn than they did before, and after a week or so, their sales are down much more than just can be accounted for by the loss of creamed corn.
In order to make up for this, the manager begins trying to bolster profits in other sectors by eliminating other low profit margin items and replacing them with more high profit margin ones.
Every single time the manager does this, though, profits inexplicably fail. They're only selling money makers, but they aren't making any money! They're losing it!
Meanwhile, across town, the manager of the rival grocery store is not only selling low profit margin items like creamed corn, but they keep running sales where they sell staples like milk or eggs for below cost. Losing money on each unit!

And yet they are raking it in.
You don't have to be some kind of economic genius to understand what's going on here. The *point* of a supermarket is it's a one-stop shopping experience. You don't go in for a few arbitrary items, but for all the groceries you need, barring maybe a few specialty items.
And if you have a choice of grocery stores and one of them has your specialty items? That's going to win out over a lot of other factors.
Canned corn may be wildly popular compared to creamed corn, but the people who want or need creamed corn aren't buying it.
So let's talk about convention programming. You've got a panel. You can have a panel with fewer people but I feel like four people is the threshold where it really feels like a panel. Much more than six and people can get lost. So let's imagine a five person panel.
Now maybe you have looked at the demographics of your convention, or maybe you just think you've got a good feel for what it is.
Your convention, as you see it, is mostly white, pretty male, skewed a bit older, has a lot of interest in the classics, the giants, the greats.
Now, you've got a pretty solid idea what kind of panelist is going to excite your constructed model of your basic congoer. You know what kind of person is going to be the big draw that gets them in the door, lures them to your programs.
Now, at this point, you've got a choice to make.

You could "stock" your panels exclusively with what you think will be the high demand item for this crowd.

Or you could try to put a high demand panelist on as many of the panels as you can, then fill them with other panelists.
Even if you are completely right about your largest demographic and you are also completely right about what sort of panelist appeals to them, every panelist past the first one that is aimed at them gives you diminishing returns.
Meanwhile, while you've got your biggest demographic taken care of, you are neglecting your other demographics.
To make a long story short (TOO LATE!), if you stock your panels like a supermarket instead of a Spatula City, you'll get more people coming to them.
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