With Halloween just finished and fresh in my mind I stumbled across this report on the Psychic industry in the US There are some amazing statistics in here.
It seems that there are 81,000 business employing 85,000 people in the Psychic business. And these generate a total of $2 BILLION in revenue every year.
These are huge headline figures and as an industry it’s huge overall. But those 85,000 people make an average of just $23,000 each per year. That’s a figure that is less impressive.
Lets’ a take a closer look.
The Psychic industry includes establishments that offer psychic and fortune-telling services. including Palmistry, Cartomancy, Mediumship, Aura reading, Astrology and Numerology. In essence these are one-person businesses and as you’ve no doubt seen yourself they often carry out their trade in small booths or shopfronts. It is the real ultimate “small industry”.
The operators often face somewhat bizarre restriction by the way. For instance fortune-telling is illegal in New York since 1967 The law specifically prohibits not only “pretend” fortune tellers but also those with real powers, which seems a bit bizarre. But they are allowed “for entertainment purposes only” which seems to defeat the purpose of the law in the first place.
But enough about weird New York laws.
This blog is most interested on what changes the internet has brought to business. Is it possible to provide psychic readings over the internet? And if so why is it still such a splintered business?
My first feeling is that this should be a perfect business for the internet. After all telephone psychics have been around for some time. And the internet should allow one or two people to come to the fore.
Take one example; Gary Markwick is a UK-based Palm reader. He says he is the 3rd generation and he gives regular readings in London. But he also reads palm online Now I’m not commenting on the skill, talent or accuracy of his readings and I’ve not had my palm read by him. But he came up when I Google online palm readers. In fact he was the only personal page.
Assuming Gary does have talent then, before the internet, his services would have been available only to those in his immediate neighbourhood. Now that he is able to provide those same palm readings online would he not begin to dominate the market as pent-up demand is released? The internet should help spread the word but does it require a marketing effort that was previously not needed for a local service?
Why Scalability Matters In The Internet Age
Of course by now many of you will have spotted the big issue here: scalability. Mostly this is as we have seen a person to person industry and there are only so many clients a single palmist can service. No matter how large the demand there are still only a fixed number of hours in the day. The individual palmist benefits from demand for their own service by raising their prices but they cannot read more palms.
Does this mean the industry is always going to be fragmented? To some extent. There is space for a company to come in and provide expertise to help market the individual psychic. But because we are now working on a global scale there is a limit to that as well, after all there is only one “best” palm reader. The opportunity for a brand is therefore limited. They can market and they can reassure clients of the quality of each psychic, but they cannot create two “best” palm readers.
And so the psychic industry is liable to remain multi-billion dollar industry that just abut provides a living to most of its business owners,