Research for PR Playbook: Finding a new tribe

In a diverse modern society, new subcultures and behaviours are emerging all the time. Whether its primary school whizz-kids who know more about technology than their parents, or grandparents addicted to dating sites. Some of these trends will remain niche while others are a sign of things to come.

Defining a new tribe or tribes can be a great way to tell a story about how society is changing. Rather than hoping to find your needle in a haystack of a nationally representative opinion poll, your research agency can help you identify, target and research a tribe, enabling you to understand what they think, feel and do.

Tribes enable a brand to own and lead a conversation by framing both conversation and decisions. As humans, we find it very difficult to address ourselves to a number or a trend, but once we’ve put a name and a face on something, these things become far more tangible.

The most effective use of this kind of research approach is not finding a quirky subculture, but articulating how this new minority is likely to change the way the rest of us think and behave.

Those who follow politics will know how effective these tribes have been in framing both discussion and policy from governments of all stripes – from ‘Mondeo Man’ under New Labour to the ‘Just About Managings (JAMs)’ talked up by Theresa May.

Key tips:

  • Catchy is crucial – having a witty acronym or alliterative moniker can be crucial for getting your new tribe over the line
  • Be specific – you need to be clear on the defining characteristics of your tribe whether background, behaviours or attitudes
  • Self-definition – consumers love to be able to apply research to themselves so try to build your story by explaining how you can tell if you’re one of the group
  • Don’t go too niche – while there are probably enough over 60s addicted to YouTube to research, we would if they had to be from the West Midlands
  • Remember to compare – asking the same questions to rest of the public will enable you to tell what’s truly distinctive about your tribe in particular

 Some examples