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Tribal

In this era, in which it gets harder and harder to reach the consumer, we like to think in target groups. Or is personas: typical existing or non-existing personalities in the target group. This way we can still reach whole groups at the same time. This way we can apply are mass communication approach to groups we have ordered according to behavioral characteristics. This way we can apply everything we have learned in the past, in a different way. This however is what I call ‘segment thinking’, which is sometimes confused with ‘tribal thinking’.

In tribal thinking, you start at the individual. At your client database. At your employees. At your old employees. At individual people These people all have their own lives. They have a family: they have children, parents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts. They live in a neighborhood. They are members of clubs, and ex-members of other clubs. They have a job. They take classes. They go to birthday parties. And this way they are members of various groups. Not everybody is socially as active as others, and even if somebody shows up the same amount of time, still the behavior can be totally different. Brands that think tribal look at the individual as their central target, and they consider what people in what way can help spread the word. To create buzz. Malcolm Gladwell wrote a beautiful book about that: ‘The Tipping Point’. Brands in this can have themselves inspired by the mission work churches had optimized in the past.

In the years to come it will be even harder to reach the consumer. More and more often consumers choose their (virtual) experiences themselves, at the moment they want it. And advertising in this process doesn’t have much chance. Brands will further discover tribal thinking. And although these developments might be hard to see (most of the work happens ‘under water’), I try to follow developments in this trend from day to day. Please inform me if your brand starts using, or wants to start using, a tribal approach! Then I can write about it here, and maybe even contribute to it that way!

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