top of page

Why you should market to tribes, not demographics

Consumer needs and interests are in constant flux these days. Demographics simply does not tell a full story as far as consumer behavior goes. In the U.K, women now make up the majority of gamers.

We have all gone ( a little ) tribal

With the recent resounding victory in the UK general elections by Boris Johnson, “a huge, great stonking mandate” and the fact that Trump's popularity seems to keep soaring among Republicans - his base even as he stumbles his way through his first term, looking "very strongly" at toilets and sinks, something I try my best not to do, It is safe to say that we, humans are as tribal as we have ever been.

Those who identify as staunch supporters of 45 see him as a "great leader", while those who oppose his ascension to power see flaws in every move he makes. All while we all witness the same series of events. We have all joined our respective tribes, taking extreme unwavering positions that we believe make us who we are: Conservatives, Liberals, Gun rights advocates, Woke, and so on.

I mean, millions of years of evolution have ensured that when all else fails we retreat into our echo chambers only listening to the idiots who agree with us in the first place. We are all suffering from mild to severe cases of Confirmation bias as we render our opinions, views, and beliefs about a panoply of topics. With the help of social media, folks can now only see and hear content that does nothing but reinforce our already existing often unsubstantiated, unresearched views.

It's not a Republican or Democrat thing, it's a people thing. We are all living in an era of self-aggrandizing.

A time when most people reject and view honest critical feedback as "hating" and gladly, willingly misconstrue difference in opinion as "fighting". The clap back era. And make no mistake about it, this type of behavior transcends age, race and all other traditional demographics. We like what we like, hate ( with unwavering fervor) who and what we hate and we don't seem to care what others think. We have all gone totally tribal. In some cases, we see this type of behavior bring folks who would otherwise not be seen together for a common good, and in other cases, this type of behavior leads to chaos, senseless conflict, and anarchy.

As small business owners and marketers, we must try to reach folks where they are. To do so we must uncover these robust tribes within which we all seem to live. We must go beyond the traditional method of trying to identify potential customers based on basic demographics. That system can serve as a starting point. A way to build the beta version of your marketing plan. To dig deeper, you must uncover tribes. You must engage in some good old fashioned Tribal Marketing.

What is a marketing tribe?

To answer that question, we must first look at what we mean as business folk when we say "Tribe", and what at the most basic level tribal marketing is. To us, a tribe is a general word that simply describes a group of people who despite their ( different) backgrounds, ages, ethnicities, and sometimes geography are connected through their shared values, interests, preferences, etc.

For example, in America, Patriotism certainly transcends various ethnicities and even countries of origin. We can all fight to defend and be in love with the entire union, even Florida and South Carolina, even though we may originally hail from say Kenya or Germany. Our goal as entrepreneurs is to reach folks through the elements that bind them. The things, issues, content, topics they rally around.

Say it loud

The global popularity of social media has certainly made it easy to uncover and even build our own tribes. We know what people like regardless of where they live. We know because they tell us. We know where folks like to eat and shop thanks to geo-tracking embedded in our phones, information we gladly share, by the way.

We "Like" all kinds of crap on Facebook. We tell the world what we believe in and are more than happy to connect and stand with folks who believe what we believe. Thanks to Social media and the rise of tribal behavior, I have watched as older black folks from Georgia show their undying support, and come to the defense of a 16-year old Swedish climate change activist.

Connected people connect with other people

Therein lies the value of tribal marketing. As a natural trajectory, tribes grow! Ideas become movements. People who have a shared set of interests find others who share their interests. You, the entrepreneur, want to place yourself and/or brand right at the epicenter of these inevitable movements.

A few years ago, we saw Dove become one of the first brands to find and cultivate the tribe of folks, men and women, who believe that a woman's natural curves should be celebrated. A move that placed the iconic brand right at the forefront of what has become a hugely profitable global movement today.

bottom of page