Marketing to mindset, not to people

Too bad I got stuck in traffic for over two hours coming from Ghent and going to Brussels for the UBA Trends Day, so unfortunately, I missed Martin Lindstrom’s contribution, but as we have a knack for understanding millennials and Gen Y at InSites Consulting, Tina Wells from the Buzz Marketing Group was the perfect ‘opener’ for me…
Tina gave us an insight into how she sees millennials influencing mainstream behavior today. Based on a network of 9000 youngsters –aka the Buzzspotters– she breaks down youngsters in 4 major tribes. A tribe, when used well in marketing is ‘a very finite group of people that can be responsible of your brand’s word of mouth’ and is a crucial idea in her thinking. But beware: the rules have changed.
Marketing to a tribe is different than to a group of people or a segment: your marketing goes to a specific mindset, not to a person within a certain age group. And in today’s millennial tribal mindset, money doesn’t matter. It’s information that is the new currency. For example, when you already know something is coming out a couple of months before it’s launched, that’s what makes the difference. If you as a brand, are able to build a relationship with your tribe based on ‘cool’ information worth spreading, you’re on your way to become millennial proof.
Here’s an overview of the 4 tribes she believes are out there for brands to work with and work ‘through’:

  1. The alternatives are value oriented and laidback and they create movements and ideas. Think of them as the engaged group of people that were responsible for launching the whole ‘green’, ‘ecology’ and ‘sustainability’ wave and make all of this ‘trendy’ again. As a result, years later, ‘conscious consumption’ has become a major mainstream trend. Big brands take this tribe seriously nowadays, thanks to their actions years ago.
  2. The techies are the guys and girls we used to call nerds and nerdettes. But, today nerd is the new cool. Steve Jobs is obviously the iconic leader of this tribe. The most salient trend they launched as a tribe that has now become mainstream is ‘technoholism’: we all own smartphones or at least want them, we all know the most popular apps, we all are addicted to technology surrounding us in life and are conditioned to use technology to make our lives more comfortable. And this is regardless of our age, gender or region.
  3. The independents are passionately autonomous. Participating in traditional culture is the last thing they want. They are truly the ambassadors of the ‘counter culture’ and are therefore the most unpredictable of all four tribes, showing what seems to be inconsistent consumer behavior. They are marketing averse, but are probably the most interesting tribe to keep an eye on as a brand to keep being ahead of the curve. One of today’s trends they are co-responsible of is ‘segmented engagement’: the idea that in a multitasking world, brands and products can only engage partially with consumers and have to fight for just a portion of the attention rather than all of it. One of the trends these independents are currently pioneering in is ‘not watching tv’, so watch out once that goes mainstream.
  4. The last group is the preppies.  If techies know 18 months earlier what the new thing will be, preppies will make it huge 18 months later. They are the early ‘acceptors’ rather than adopters. Preppies want to be ‘on trend’, rather than ahead of the trend. It is them you need as a brand or product as they are the critical mass in the millennial generation of today. Take Jay-Z for instance. Ten years ago he would have been called ‘urban’ and ‘hiphop’. Today, thanks to his massive picking up by preppies, he has become plain and simple ‘pop culture’.

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