Why Tribes Matter More Than Demographics

The internet has changed the ways we connect with each other (and no, we’re not talking about Facebook memes). It has created a place for people with very unique interests to interact with each other with very little difficulty. This easy connection has given rise to tribes: groups of people linked together by common interests, philosophies, or experiences.

These tribes can be broad (new moms, outdoor enthusiasts, Apple fans), or incredibly narrow (people who really, really like a certain brand of leggings). Tribes are connected with each other, with the beliefs they share, and with the brands that support their ideals. And that’s the power of tribes: if you can connect with and engage your tribe, they’ll not only embrace your brand, they’ll help you define it. Tribes or demographics? Read on!

In the Battle Between Tribes and Demographics, Tribes are Increasingly the Victor

Breaking down consumer groups by demographics (age, gender, education level, location, economic status) certainly isn’t a bad idea. Doing so helps you target your messages to appeal to the group of people most likely to be interested in your brand. However, fine tuning your message based on demographics can only go so far. Tribe marketing picks up where demographics fail.

Let’s say your brand focuses on backpacking equipment. Your demographic research could lead you to believe that millennial aged males would be most receptive to your focus. However, would all members of that group respond to your brand’s story? Probably not. Sure, there are plenty of outdoor and adventure enthusiasts in that demographic group, but there are just as many (or even more) members who would be much more interested in the latest smartphone, video game, power tool, cooking gadget, or episode of Game of Thrones.

And the group that is passionate about outdoor adventure? They’re not going to identify with the same messages. Some will respond best to equipment that can stand up to tough use. Some are interested in backpacking technology and want a pack that uses the latest materials and design, while others are motivated by simplicity. Some of them are looking for a backpack for their dog. Even with a targeted demographic, consumers are all over the place.

And that’s why tribes are so powerful. Today’s buyers are passionate about their interests. They are diverse and fragmented, but they are also connected. They are connected to each other, to the ideas and passions they share, and to a leader who helps to strengthen their bonds and create stories they can relate to. If you can step into that leadership role, your tribe will return the favor by throwing their passion behind your products and evangelizing your brand.

Finding and Leading Your Tribe

Finding and leading your tribe is far too broad a topic to handle in a single blog post, but fear not – it’s a concept we’ll be coming back to in future posts. In short, we’ll say it’s a process of creating a community where your tribe can connect, and creating stories that resonates with your tribe’s unique language.

Connecting with your tribe isn’t always as clear-cut as marketing to a specific demographic, but the results are well worth the effort. So think about it: what’s your tribe? How can you connect with them?