Etsy and the long-tail: how microenterprises use hyper-differentiation in online handicraft marketplaces


This research presents an analysis of online microenterprises who sell handmade crafts and individually customized products. Using extant literature in the areas of e-commerce and long-tail marketing, this study develops two theoretical models of microenterprise sales success—on the product-level and on the shop-level. The models posit that higher product sales prices or shop average sales prices are associated with hyper-differentiation marketing activities, while controlling for social media impacts. We examine the models and present an empirical analysis of a dataset consisting of the marketing and sales activities of 1490 microenterprises within Etsy, an online commerce platform. Our analysis and results show that microenterprises who leverage their core competencies around handmade and customized products command higher product sales prices, confirmed at the product and shop level. Our study offers insights for existing microenterprises and researchers interested in examining how online microenterprises in niche markets achieve sales success.

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Correspondence to Richelle L. Oakley.

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Church, E.M., Oakley, R.L. Etsy and the long-tail: how microenterprises use hyper-differentiation in online handicraft marketplaces. Electron Commer Res 18, 883–898 (2018).

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  • Microenterprises
  • Long-tail marketing
  • Hyper-differentiation
  • Niche markets
  • Etsy