Black and white image of a group of friends making silly faces

Tapping Into the Tribe

WE Communications Blog: Consumer

— Monica Hopkins 

Family. Community. Blood Ties. Retail?

If you’re thinking, “One of these words is not like the other,” then think again. Why? Because at this year’s National Retail Federation (NRF) BIG Show in New York City, retailers confirmed we can toss out the stale, “Mad Men”­-era checklist when thinking about audience demographics such as age, income and gender. Simply put, it’s time to embrace the tribe.

What is a tribe? We’re glad you asked. A tribe gets personal. A tribe speaks the same language, even if you’re on opposite sides of the globe. A tribe transcends demographics and builds a common bond from a set of shared values. A tribe understands your motivations — what makes your brand tick. When engaged with your brand, a tribe moves it beyond a logo to something people can connect with and embrace. A tribe can help you understand how your world view aligns with your customers and then build your business around them.

Female shopper comparing hiking shoes in a retail store

How can a tribe do all that? Because at its core, a tribe isn’t about data, it’s about passion.

We know traditional demographics can be misleading. Take, for example, two single 32-year-old women living in Minneapolis. They’re the same age, earn the same salary, live in the same city and spend equally at Sephora. At first glance, it seems obvious that they fall into the same target audience box. Check!

But take a second look through a tribal lens: A 32-year-old who is passionate about photography, veganism and her vinyl collection is not the same as her 32-year-old counterpart who is a diehard yogi, sings along to Taylor Swift and rocks Lululemon. When they go to the checkout counter at Sephora, one is all about achieving the perfect combo of cat eye and bold lips (shops Kat Von D), while the other is striving for that fresh-faced, Jennifer Aniston look (shops Living Proof). A tribe is about real people who connect with brands at an emotional level and view their purchases as an extension and reflection of themselves.

We aren’t a “one size fits all” culture — one glance at any social media platform proves that we are all busy curating and asserting our uniqueness. So it makes sense that in the age of the Empowered Shopper, consumers expect brands to be a perfect fit for their lifestyle. Don’t fear authenticity — create a living, breathing brand and become one with your tribe.

Want to tap into your tribe? Give us a shout. WE can help.