A tribe is described as "A social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities, linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognised leader."
A brand community was defined by Albert Muniz Jr. and Thomas C. O'Guinn as "A specialised non-geographical bound community based upon a structured set of social relations among admirers of a brand."
The Tribe you need to create combines all the above except rather than being a leader you need to establish yourself as the facilitator.
The first question to ask yourself after establishing the definition of a Brand based Tribe is "Why would I want to build a Tribe around my brand?"
Lets consider the high costs in building a retail business within the Pet Industry or any other retail segment. The costs are high to target consumers traditionally whether you are looking local or global. It is time consuming and very hard to pin down where your marketing dollars need to be spent in order to attract new consumers and maintain existing clients.
The internet is a big factor in the "Why build a tribe" question and the answer is the internet has given rise to opportunities for consumers to learn more, engage within social platforms and its ability for consumers to reject items or groups of non-interest.
A Tribe once built around your brand are generally more passionate, loyal and more engaged and often become strong brand ambassadors. They will also bring and encourage new consumers into your Tribe reducing your marketing cost's.
A strong Tribe also allows you to engage in a more intimate way allowing you to better understand what it is they are looking for and will even engage in a way that will lead you to develop your brand and products further to meet their needs and fuel their passion.
There are a large number of case studies but 2 very strong companies that do this well are Red Bull and Harley Davidson.
Red Bull have built a strong Tribe around Extreme sports using Facebook, Youtube, Instagram among other key social platforms that allow them to share what I call "The Red Bull Experience." We all know Red Bull is an energy drink but when I think of Red Bull it is the crazy cool stuff in extreme sports that first comes to mind. They understand their age demographics and have put these extreme sport events squarely in the mind of their consumer base. These sport events are held geographically on a global scale and also lends to the brands global presence. Red Bull have a strong brand and are amongst the best at having a consumer based Tribe.
Harley Davidson has a strong Tribe and have built this following around what I call "The Harley Davidson Lifestyle." The lifestyle is built upon the concept of freedom, being a rebel and standing out from the crowd. Their are Harley Davidson enthusiast clubs on a global scale who gather for rides and engage in sharing their experiences in riding these bikes. They often wear blue jeans and leather jackets which are often ablaze with the brand logo. Again a great example of a brand based Tribe where the consumer based is heavily invested and engaged with the brand within a very active environment.
We now understand why we need a Tribe and the 2 examples above show the strength a Tribe can have in making your brand presence felt on a large scale and how engaged the consumers can be within the brand.
You must first establish yourself as your brand facilitator not a direct leader and understand you are trying to build a consumer base to act as a democratic social group. If you look at Google, Facebook and Instagram they are all social platforms allowing people to connect. Build a consumer identity under your brand and allow customers through these social networks to engage and share theirs and your experiences.
You need to understand your consumers values, drivers, passions and generate content to build your consumer base. Your Retail outlet, signage and social media platforms should all be utalised to maximise your Tribe building process. Add life events, real life experiences into your content and always apply a fundamental understanding of your geographical and demographical presence.
Build your brand presence around your tribe and incorporate that into your marketing.
Your content must be highly targeted and relevant to your most profitable customer base and this point is important for your tribe building process and overall retail success.
Once you have put processes into place to build your Tribe it is important that all levels of building your Tribe are structured to act as a support network for your consumers to share ideas and there experiences. Bringing Tribe members and their shared experiences into your key retail decision making can also be profitable as they continue to engage in your growth through strategies you have build around their ideas and passion.
Building a membership base and offering exclusive products, services and promotions will also allow you to deliver value added offerings directly to an audience already engaged within your business and brand.
Remember it is always cheaper to maintain an existing consumer base than fund marketing targeting new consumers. Technology has also never been better than now in terms of having strong free platforms to utalise in building your Tribe or engage with such a large audience.
It is never to late to start building your Tribe and let them share your passion to build a better brand and business.
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