Tribal Marketing : the tribalisation of society and its impact on the conduct of marketing

Marketing & new consumption

publication date 05/12/2016

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In response to the growing individualism produced by today’s society, contemporaries found a way to recreate relationships two decades ago.

Individuals have gathered into tribes sharing the same passion. Passion for an activity (e.g. canyoning), a cultural product (e.g. Star Wars), or a brand (e.g. Lego). In doing so, they have developed in this way consumer practices that prioritise the construction of links to the possession of goods.

From 1997, Bernard Cova predicted that understanding the market from the concept of tribes could make it possible to replace the marketing approach. He defined tribes as “societal micro-groups in which individuals interact and share strong emotional links, a common passion and similar experiences”. As a segmental approach to consumers no longer manages to explain certain consumer behaviours, the tribal approach has provided a welcome alternative for marketers.

Bernard Cova’s research has therefore contributed to the evolution of marketing approaches; businesses have started to deal with brands as if they were vehicles for social connections and not individuals in isolation. The most valuable brands today are therefore those who enjoy the support of a tribe, for example Apple or Harley-Davidson.