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Tribal Marketing | What is it & why is it important?

Tribal marketing is the process of segmenting audiences based on shared beliefs, affinities and interests, instead of clustering by demographics such as age and gender.

In recent years, consumers have come to expect more from brands. It’s no longer enough for brands to have a great product or service, they must have the values and ethos to match. This is particularly true for millennials, with 62% stating that “buying from companies that support their own political and social beliefs is important” [5W Consumer Culture Report].

Tribal marketing allows your brand to delve deeper into what matters to your audience, the best ways to target them and help you to craft authentic and sensitive content that will resonate with them.

What’s the difference between tribes and communities?

There is no real difference between communities, tribes, segments and clusters; they are simply different names, used interchangeably to talk about the same thing. Each one involves breaking down broader audiences into smaller groups to target with a more personalised approach. The key difference is in the approach to social media consumer segmentation and how different tribes or communities are created.

There are two key ways to cluster different audiences: the first is breaking an audience down into interest-based audiences and the second is by analysing the connectivity of users to understand the uniqueness of each segment.

The first method segments users based on their interests (typically inferred) or accounts they follow. With this approach, topics or interests form the different categories that the audience are split into, e.g. football fans vs. movie buffs.

The second method takes it one step further by analysing the connectivity of users to then uncover the common interests, personality traits or influencers that they share. Exploring the different layers that make up a specific audience enables you to understand the nuances between them and understand factors such as interests and personality traits in the context of their connection. This provides a more accurate representation of how people come together and offers a more data-driven approach to uncovering and understanding tribes to market to.

Audiense - 2 approaches to Social Media Consumer Segments

Why is it important?

Tribal marketing is important because it enables brands to better understand their consumers and the niche groups that exist within their customer base or social media followers. It provides a more interesting and sophisticated way of segmenting audiences, which opens up new insights and opportunities. It also enables brands to connect with their audience on an emotional level, which is extremely important for building brand affinity.

Companies may think that they know their audience because they know the age, gender and location split of their customers, however tribal marketing helps companies to understand a) what unites these communities, e.g. what are the shared beliefs that connect them?, and b) what different tribes exist within their brand community.

Importantly, many consumers don’t want to be defined by fixed characteristics such as race, age or sexual identity, but rather on their personality, values and hobbies, according to a report by VICE Media Group.

Audiense - People self-identify by WHO they really are

How to identify tribes

Audience Intelligence is essential for effective tribal marketing. Using tools such as Audiense Insights, companies can identify different tribes and understand what or who they are influenced by. When it comes to the ‘who’, this is where affinity graph analysis is key. Consumers’ desire to engage with ‘real’ and authentic brands should be reflected in how brands market to their customers, e.g. using real people who have shared values that the tribe can identify with as influencers to promote their product or service. In depth audience intelligence can identify these influencers and sources of influence (e.g. other brands, podcasts, youtube channels, websites, media), as well as the niche communities they are a part of.

Using Audiense for tribal marketing

Audiense Insights allows you to identify and understand the tribes that exist within your audience and your competitors’ audience, and provides powerful analysis and niche insights into how they are connected.

Companies can use these insights strategically to uncover new market opportunities, identify influencers and pivot their content campaigns to drive higher engagement and build brand affinity.

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