“Tribal” is Back Because Communications Has Changed | Greg Hoyos

Trying to grab the attention of the masses isn’t the way to go anymore.



By Greg Hoyos

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday April 26, 2018 – Before books and the written word, we were all “tribal people”; messages were spoken and a person and their message were one and the same.

The invention of print allowed words to be sent independently from the writer, separating the two entirely. So, while Jesus was “tribal” (word and man together), the Bible (a series of written reports) is not, and so on. Same for Mohammed and the Quran. You get the idea.

Now the effect of cell phones, the Internet, more individual cars and more personalized TV channels have all combined to bring back “tribal man” but in a whole new way. United States President Donald Trump is the epitome of “tribal man”, tweeting constantly to his “tribe” – his base – in short, radical bursts.

So, one side effect of cell phones and personalized social media is the re-segmentation (re-tribalization) of society. Have you seen how many different small groups of special-interest people there are on any subject, anywhere you look?

The lessons for marketers are clear: seek your best segments to survive. Mass markets no longer exist. The world is not coalescing into large groups anymore; it’s splitting into ever-more splinters and slivers. That’s where your product is bought.

We need to stop thinking of mass media, mass markets, mass anything. It’s those who dominate the segments who will win.

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Greg Hoyos is founder and chairman at GHA DDB. He started his first regional ad agency in 1970; has won five CLIOs (including the 1979 Worldwide Copywriting statue) and numerous Caribbean ADDYs; and is the author of ‘Marketing and Demand’ and ‘A History of Marketing in 32 Objects’. He can be reached at (246) 234-4110 or greg@greghoyos.com