I conceived of Tribal Intelligence® to bring tangibility to segmentation by showing the connection between communities and brands. Tribal Intelligence has since evolved into a study of the usability of products and services that create brand experiences. It is the perspective that buyer behavior is influenced more by interaction between people in communities than by individuals making independent decisions. Consider the following: Fashion is tribal
Fashion is a shared idea of what is in vogue, popular or otherwise culturally appealing (to a given culture). It is both a verbalized as well as a tacit expression, modeled by the behavior of selecting visual and verbal cues. The obvious fashions are apparel and personal accessories (catalogs are the user guides). However, the word "fashionable" refers to any trending or “modish” behavior. There are fashionable business practices. For example, software has long been developed using the highly structured "cascade” process. But now "agile development” is the fashionably efficient and flexible method. The trend of giving lavish client gifts has given way to the “socially correct” practice of making charitable donations in someone’s name.
The 80/20 of tribal behavior
Why do inferior products often win the race to market leadership over superior technologies? The answer: the success of marketing to drive tribal purchasing, then momentum that leads to critical mass of an installed base (or a network effect). To wit: VHS vs. Beta.
Popularity is another term describing behavior patterns. In marketing and sales, the designation “popular” is used as a positive association and incentive to participate. In politics, “popular” is what the people wish, rather than what the elected representatives determine. A populist represents the people’s desires.
A study of most mature markets reveals that there is a Market Leader, with 35%- 75% market share. The Leader is followed by a "Challenger," with the second-largest share of market, or about 10-25%. The remaining is a “long tail” of the market is served by a large number of specialty niche providers. Tribal purchasing beliefs and behaviors create this exact organizing structure, time and time again. Strong leaders aggregate and concentrate the tribal marketplace.
Consider photos of any large metropolis. The persisting pattern is a downtown center with the tallest buildings, stepping down as they spread outwards. As urban sprawl occurs, centers join at the periphery. However, the consistent metropolitan shape is a bull's-eye, with the densest tribal concentration in the center, where high-rises are developed at a premium.
All of the above are reflections of tribal behavior, the results of people congregating in cultural consensus about the things that are most important and valued, leaving a minority alternative or counter culture niches that tapers off.
Marketers love to study and codify human behavior. It’s a fascination with the way minds and cultures work. Tribal Intelligence is a reminder of how much we respond to each other, which tempers the idea that we make decisions as logical individuals. It’s a guiding practice to developing brands and communication campaigns that spark interest in community tribes, trough a better understanding of their motivations. Look around at some of the megatrends and megabrands today to see tribes in action. Social media, Apple, Groupon and many other Tribally Intelligent marketers are in the process of cracking the code on community behavior.