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A brand tribe is a group of people who are linked by a shared belief around a brand. Its members are not simple consumers, they are also believers and promoters. A brand tribe is capable of collective action and therefore has implications for business.
'Brand Tribalism' was first invented as a marketing and advertising creative concept strategy by Mark Lovick in 1984, at the age of 22, while he was a copywriter for Coca-Cola at McCann-Erickson Advertising, Sydney, Australia.
The concept of tribal consumption revolves around the research and writings of numerous academic researchers who have expressed “Tribal Based Views of brand”. Michel Maffesoli (1996), Cova (1997), Veloutsou and Moutinho (2007), Cova and Cova (2001, 2002), Kozinets, Shankar et al. (2007), D’Alessandro  describes the tribes people belong to as "determined even less by geography, pedigree, race or religion. Instead, our tribes are determined largely by education and accomplishment, and they are manifested by the things we consume. More and more, they are brand tribes."
Much of the research on brand tribalism depicts 21st Century society as a network of micro-cultures or “tribes.” A key element of brand tribes is that they are organically and voluntarily formed through individual identification with a brand. Factors that contribute to the formation of a brand tribe are perceived brand authenticity, experiences felt through interaction with the brand and a collective sense of belonging within a group.
Central to the fabric of brand tribes is a deep conviction as to the notion of truth or rightness (Belief).
Potential red flags
Much in this area is still under-theorised. Academics have explored and discussed the degree of connectedness between consumers and brands and the implications for post-modern organisations and consumption. Kozinets and Handelman have been amongst those to call for further conceptualisations (Kozinets and Handelman, 2004).
- Patrick Dixon (2010-10-31). "Wake up to Stronger tribes and longer life" (PDF). Financial Times. Retrieved 2010-02-08.
- 'Brand Warfare: Ten Rules for Building the Killer Brand, with Michele Owens', 2001; p.22
- Veloutsou, Cleopatra/Moutinho, Luiz . (2009) Brand relationships through brand reputation and brand tribalism, Journal of Business Research, March 2009
- Kozinets, Robert V. & Jay M. Handelman (2004) “Adversaries of Consumption: Consumer Movements, Activism, Ideology,” Journal of Consumer Research, 31 (3), 691-704.
- Cova, B. and Cova, V. (2002), “Tribal marketing: the tribalisation of society and its impact on the conduct of marketing.” European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 36, No.5& 6, pp. 595–620.
- Cova, B. and Cova, V. (2001) ‘Tribal aspects of postmodern consumption: the case of French in-line roller skaters,’ Journal of Consumer Behavior, Vol. 1, No 1, p. 67-76.
- Kozinets,R. Cova, B. and Shankar, A. (eds) (2007) Consumer Tribes: Theory, Practice, and Prospects, Elsevier/Butterworth-Heinemann, London.
- Maffesoli, M. (1996), The Time of the Tribes. London.