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Buying Tribes

Many of my clients have benefited from re-orienting their segmentation around “apirational mindset modeling”. Explaining this concept and the underlying methods for uncovering an aspirational mindset is paradoxical because it forces me to use left brain tools to explain an extremely right brained process. This paradox is at the root of the “stuckness” many marketers and marketeers identify and curse.

Our buyers first approach a high involvement brand more like a needy beast than a discerning buyer. How? Well our first approach is more like the Gladwell “Blink” in that its intuitive, highly existential and performed without language or logic. Yes, we do file those feelings using rational markers to justify our impulse, but by the time we have decided that the extra horsepower will help us on those dangerous merges our mind was already made up. In truth we leap before we look based on choosing brands that affirm our desired sense of self.

Leading marketers have figured out how to understand the prevailing mindset of their brand lovers. They know what keeps them congregating under the brand umbrella regardless of their demographic and also understand other aspirational constructs that reinforce the brand’s position.

After years of conducting ethnographies around the country for hundreds of leading brands I can clearly see that while every brand has a unique aspirational “thumb print” buyers tend to congregate in one of 12-14 dominant buying “tribes”. With apologies for a rather unrefined use of the term, I use the idea of tribes because these buyers share cameraderie, organize to achieve results and are driven by a shared visceral instinct that gives them some unity of purpose.

Understanding customer behavior in these terms, and seeing the patterns in brand selection can radically alter a brand teams understanding of their leading edge. You may know who is buying your product, but do you really know why, and do you really know how to put your brand in the intersections where your brand at its best is most meaningful to them?

You should. The tribe has spoken and it may vote you off the island.

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