Sunday, March 30, 2014

Turns Out There's Lottttttttssss Of Money To Be Made In T-Shirts

from the who-knew? dept

We've pointed out in the past that folks who don't want to understand the economics of scarce and infinite goods often falsely claim that the business model we suggest is all about selling lots of t-shirts. Or, more specifically, when they comment in a mocking fashion, it's usually something like "lotttttttttttttttttttttsssssssssssssssssss of t-shirts."

The truth is that the business models we've shown usually have little to nothing to do with t-shirts. There are tons of scarcities that have nothing to do with t-shirts, and often aren't even physical goods (another mistake people make is assuming that scarce means physical). Usually we're talking about things like access and attention as valuable scarce goods. However, perhaps we were being a bit too flip in ignoring t-shirts ourselves.

Clive Thompson has a short article over at Wired looking at "the t-shirt economy," noting that it's actually a pretty big business: on the order of $40 billion in branded or decorated apparel (by comparison, the worldwide market for recorded music was supposedly $31.8 billion in 2006), and some of that definitely comes from content providers who are providing content for free and making money selling t-shirts. I still don't think it's the greatest business model out there (despite what some of my critics like to claim I've said), but I have to admit I'm rather amused by the fact that the "t-shirt economy" is actually getting some attention.

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