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New Age of Global Marketing – Global Tribes and Local Identities

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This post is by Jeremy Taylor, Business Director at TrinityP3 UK and Managing Partner of CONNECT2 Community Engagement Ltd, the UK’s leading community engagement experts.

TrinityP3 UK recently attended the second ‘New Age of Global Marketing’ conference run by the Global Marketers’ Club in London.

The theme of the conference – “Global Tribes and Local Identities” – addressed the question of how new consumer profiles and behaviours affect global marketing. Is it possible to target globally? And what is the impact on local media, creativity and creative production?

Three chaired sessions during the morning assessed the subject of Global Tribes, which were broadly defined initially as Millenials and Generation Z.

The first session featured panel members who were able to speak about their own experiences both as members of these groups themselves, and also as marketers addressing their peer group from the point of view of content generation, influencer marketing and social media specialisms.

Alvin Hussey from Beano Studios, Rebecca Connée from Tallify and Chris Kubby from Kubby and Co spoke eloquently about the differences between the two groups, the emergence of Generation Z, and how their digital lifestyle spent with mobile phone permanently at hand influences everything they do.

We heard about the short attention spans of Generation Z (8 seconds), how to choose influencers to match values and geography, and the good work with these audiences being carried out by Nike and Burger King along with many small specialist brands.

There were conflicting views as to whether there are more similarities or differences between different geographies from the panel. But there was total agreement that all brands need to demonstrate complete authenticity, solid purpose expressed behind the brand (to match audience sensibilities), plus user-friendly content matched to audience interests and expressed across both long and short-form versions. In this permanently-on digital world, it is now vital to test and learn with content.

Marketing to global tribes

In the second panel session, the focus was on the principles of marketing on a global scale to tribes. Some sharper definition of tribes was discussed, with views on groups such as Fitness Fanatics, Eco Warriors, Urban Creatives and Gamers. “You are what you buy” was the mantra here from the panel.

However, Brand Strategist Gellen Watt sounded a note of caution. What if the labels of Millenials and Generation Z are no more than indicators of generations like any other going through the usual life-stages? After all, Millennials’ interests and behaviours are changing as they become home-makers and responsible career followers, just like every generation before them. Attention levels lengthen, interest in media beyond the mobile phone grows, interest in a broader and changing range of products and services appears.

What if the old rules of marketing still apply after all?

Authenticity for the brand, immersing communications in the culture of the audience, testing and rolling out; these have been best practice for marketers for decades. In this approach to Global Tribes, once you have established your audiences passions and behaviours, demographic profiles still have an important role in finding and connecting with them; on-line media are still media, important to understand and with technological aspects that are new and constantly evolving, but essentially still media through which we reach our customers and prospects.

In this view of the world, the new generation of marketers would be well advised not to dismiss the established rules of marketing. These rules need to be understood and then over-laid with marketers’ own experiences and insights, as previous generations of marketers have always done.

Gellen Watt put up a strong argument that the rules of marketing have not changed, only the labels. Sound marketing is based on a sound understanding of the driving forces behind basic human behaviour, which have not fundamentally changed in the history of civilisation. Thought provoking stuff, well received by many in the audience.

The session was rounded off with some sound advice on trends – these are moving faster than ever (digital media again) so trying to be ‘on-trend’ is almost impossible. In fact it can be dangerous, as getting it wrong is a fatal mistake. Better to be a part of an established trend, and of course be authentic – the theme word of the seminar – in your expression of it.

Local identities

The conference ended with a more detailed examination of some of the global tribes that marketers will come across – feminists, eco warriors, minimalists, gamers, nostalgics and fandoms, people with a passion for a particular hobby or iconic figure. With the previous session’s warnings in mind, there is a suspicion that these can start to sound like pen-portraits of audience sectors, which illustrate some key characteristics without ever hoping to completely describe an individual.

The main out-take for the conference was that global descriptors need qualifying with local specifics when putting together a marketing campaign, and there will be cultural, media and behavioural differences.

So the main lesson is – global cultures are a start point, local relevance is the key.

So – Is Everything Really So Different?

The ways we talk to and the methods and media we use to engage with customers constantly evolve. But the fundamental rules still apply, because human nature is an unchanging universal rule. Be warned, because one basic rule will always apply  – everything changes, but everything remains the same!

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Jeremy Taylor is Managing Partner of CONNECT2 Community Engagement Ltd based in London, the UK’s leading community engagement experts.

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