Why Brand Tribalism has been replaced by Brand Believers.
The theory of brand tribalism has been around for sometime since its perceived inception circa 2006. However, as far back as 1960 the public intellectual Marshall McLuhan stated; “The ‘simultaneous sharing of experiences as in a village or tribe’ through telegraph, newspaper, radio, telephone and TV, ‘creates a village or tribal outlook and puts a premium on togetherness’ and ‘mediocrity as a means of achieving togetherness”.
But what is brand tribalism and why is it so important?
Well, it is defined as a community of individuals who are united by an emotional attachment to a product or brand. A brand tribe consists of “formal or informal groups of consumers whom share the same awareness, passion and loyalty for a brand or portfolio of brands” (Gallagher, 2013).
The reason brand tribalism has become so significant is that with the dominance of social media within marketing over the past decade, agencies and brands alike have seen this as the best way, if not the only way, to generate loyalty and in turn, sales.
However what we’re now experiencing is a rising fragmentation of these groups as individuals are able to find increasingly localised and specific content to fuel their passions. This fragmentation is being compounded with the disintegration of consumption patterns.
“A recent study from the Connected Home UX (CHX) group at Strategy Analytics has explored consumer usage of multiple devices when watching TV. The increased size and enhanced quality of screens of smartphones and tablets over the years have encouraged more activity and usage of multiple devices when watching TV. At present, most second device use is unrelated to the content being shown on the TV at that time, as consumers like to be active, rather than passively consuming TV for long periods.”*
What we’re seeing now is not simply an increasing rise in ever-smaller distinct groups, but they are also becoming harder to reach through any one particular channel.
This means that increasingly there are going to be two types of successful marketers. Those that have the budgets and resource to create and deliver content across an increasingly broad breadth of channels and platforms, and those that decide to turn marketing on its head and empower their ‘fans’ to market the brand for them. This new wave of fans we call BRAND BELIVERS.
To believe you must have confidence in the truth or reliability of a brand. This conviction is not based on blind-faith; rather it is grounded on credible information. Brand believers inherently want to share their newfound convictions with like-minded people. It is this organic, informed sharing which makes Brand Believers so influential. They then share and inform their own micro-groups creating new Brand Believers as they do so, who then in turn, share with their friends.
Where Brand Believers differ from Brand Advocates, is that a Brand Advocate simply shares their brand experience, whereas a Believer has real knowledge. They understand a brand completely and know why products are right for them.
It is conveying this depth of information that many brands struggle with as they’re still at the stage of conveying messages they feel are most pertinent, as opposed to being more open. While they may talk of two-way conversations, these are still very much under the control of the brand. However, through open and honest sharing of information, a brand can empower their audience and can give them the knowledge they need to take the message forward.
For those brands that dare to be ahead of the curve and embrace the strategy of creating brand believers, not only can they manage their budgets more effectively, they can reach those individuals who are going to drive growth in their sales. Now, that’s something to believe in.