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Tribal marketing: The tribalisation of society and its impact on the conduct of marketing

Bernard Cova (ESCP‐EAP, European School of Management, Paris‐Oxford‐Berlin‐Madrid)
Véronique Cova (University of Toulon‐Var, France)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 1 June 2002



This paper presents an alternative, “Latin” vision of our societies. Here the urgent societal issue is not to celebrate freedom from social constraints, but to re‐establish communal embeddedness. The citizen of 2002 is less interested in the objects of consumption than in the social links and identities that come with them. This Latin view holds that people like to gather together in tribes and that such social, proximate communities are more affective and influential on people’s behaviour than either marketing institutions or other “formal” cultural authorities. There is also an element of resistance and re‐appropriation in the acts of being, gathering and experiencing together. This view of the shared experience of tribes sets it apart from both Northern notions of segmented markets and one‐to‐one relationships. In this Latin view, the effective marketing of 2002 and beyond is not to accept and exploit consumers in their contemporary individualisation, as Northern approaches might. Rather the future of marketing is in offering and supporting a renewed sense of community. Marketing becomes tribal marketing. In a marketing profession challenged by the Internet phenomenon, tribal marketing is by no means just another passing fad but a Trojan horse to induce companies to take on board the re‐emergence of the quest for community.



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.




Copyright © 2002, MCB UP Limited

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