Wednesday, 17 July 2013

About Tribes

We live in tribes.

Do not try not to live in one; as human creature we are wired and programmed to settle into a tribe.

If you think you do not, then you might be what Dian Fossey calls a 'peripheral gorilla', which is a gorilla who lives alone... in a bush right next to one specific tribe.

For hundred thousand years, we roamed the earth in groups of some 120 individuals (and this is still the average number of friends we have on Facebook).

Sure, in the 21st century we can belong to more tribes, at the same time.

At college, we might belong to the Jocks, the Cheerleaders or the Goths. In a village we might associate us with Money, Class, the Sporties, the Intellectuals; just to name 4 very strong and influential 'brands'.
Any marketing plan starts with identifying the 'target market', or the tribe. Which tribe are you going to plug into, tap into or create? 

You will have to, for humans do not buy a product, but what it tells about themselves or the image it will project towards the outside world.

Come hell or high water, every product or concept craves the support of a tribe; it is the conditio sine qua non of its success. For a tribe is immensily powerful. It is much more than the sum of the individuals and a tool of pressure unlike any else. 

(Just ask any doorman at a disco whether he'd accept a group of 12 guys arriving together and coming from the same village). 
Hence why big brands are never after selling a product. They are selling a complete lifestyle, a package of norms and principles as complete as that of any religion or philosophy.

It's for this reason that I am interested in brands such as Apple or Herbalife; they do not sell products, they sell the very comfortable and reassuring feel of belonging to a tribe.

Studying any successful brand, is a lesson in anthropology.



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