Less Is More

May 26, 2015 / 0 Comment
September 22, 2011

Marketing practice runs on reach and frequency. The understanding behind this theory is that more people should see the communication more often. And if a certain percentage of them like the communication and feel compelled to try the product, it will lead to sales.

Millions are spent in media every day so that an ideal 60@3 figure can be reached. And by the way, in most categories the media target audience is same. The same consumer is bombarded by messages from various brands.

This strategy might work for the market leader. They have strong awareness, market momentum and deep pockets for pushing GRPs.

What about the second, third and fourth brand in the category?

They face two challenges,

a. Increase sales twice over

b. By being heard under the loud din of the media cover of the leader.

What if a challenger brand doesn’t focus on the entire potential consumer base but focuses only on, say 5% of their consumers who are fanatical about the brand?

Those who use Apple products know what I am talking about.

Or as Seth Godin calls them – Tribes.

We see tribes all around us. And we, as consumers, knowingly or unknowingly are a part of one tribe or the other. That’s natural to human beings. It’s our DNA code since caveman days.

As Godin points out, a tribe needs two things to exist. Shared interest in an idea, and a way to communicate with each other.

Why do smokers hang out together? (And why hasn’t any cigarette brand fuelled it.)

The firm does not run Wikipedia; it is run by a few thousands of volunteers.

Deadheads made Grateful Dead more than just another band. This tribe of fans travelled with the band across cities, made living out of selling hand created merchandise and bootlegging rare recordings.

Grateful dead just fed the tribe of deadheads. Deadheads took the band to the people.

We as marketers know it, but we miss one fact every time – that when people are passionate about an idea, they share and amplify it to others.  When many do that, it becomes a movement. The Arab spring is not far behind us.

Won’t the task become simpler if marketers can identify these very few but zealous believers and handover the brand to them? A tribal workforce willing to work for free, or go to war, as long as it is put on the revered pedestal of being the closest to the brand.

Diesel did that with its Heidies campaign. It took guts. For 5 days the diesel website was called Heidies.com

Every business wants to grow, and one of the ways is to get in more people in the brand franchise. Now this is another tricky situation that backfires if not handled carefully.

In order to woo new people in the brand fold, who are not as passionate as the existing ones (else they would have already been in the franchise), brands start to unconsciously ignore their respective tribes. Tribes are territorial in nature and don’t like others walk in freely and top of it serenaded by the brand.

A heavy metal pub in Delhi opened few years ago. In the first couple of years of its opening, all one saw there was sweating males in black tee shirts and blue denims head banging every night. Knowingly or unknowingly, the place had found its tribe – the tribe of metal. The members of the tribe recruited new ones who shared the same passion for heavy metal. Everyone knew everyone.

Then came the growth worm.  To cater to a wider audience, the music policy was toned down and made more popular. With Elvis sharing the same speakers as Rage Against the machine. It got in a new set of people. The revolvers. They don’t stick to a particular place. They are nomads, not tribes.

The revolvers came in and went away. The tribe though was never seen again in the same strength. It just disappeared.

Maybe this is one thing modern marketers need to think about. With rising media costs, fragmented markets and many kinds of consumer segment, it will become imperative to find the like-minded people, give them the brand and let the tribe run it.


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