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Brand tribalism: an anthropological perspective

Harry A. Taute (Woodbury School of Business, Utah Valley University, Orem, Utah, USA)
Jeremy Sierra (McCoy College of Business Administration, Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas, USA)

Journal of Product & Brand Management

ISSN: 1061-0421

Article publication date: 11 March 2014




Companies should move beyond product attribute positioning to fostering affective-laden relationships with customers, as customers often want to feel engaged with the brand they purchase. These brand tribal members share something emotively more than mere brand ownership. As measures of brand engagement continue to evolve, proven instruments measuring brand tribalism and studies investigating its explanatory power are limited. The purpose of this paper is to help fill this research fissure by offering a three-study approach, leaning on Sahlin's anthropological theory of segmented lineage.


In Study 1, the authors develop and evaluate the measurement properties of a brand tribalism scale. Using survey data in Study 2 and Study 3, the applicability of brand tribalism on brand-response variables across two technological contexts is examined.


Data drawn from ordinary brand users confirm scale validity while questioning the efficacy of communal social structures to affect brand attitude and repurchase intentions.

Research limitations/implications

Moving consumers from occasional brand users to members of their brand tribe should be one of many company objectives. The studies here offer acumen as to why such objectives should be pursued and how they can be met.


The data from the three studies lend insight to the importance of brand tribalism, its measurement properties, and raise issues regarding its effect on key brand-related outcomes.



A. Taute, H. and Sierra, J. (2014), "Brand tribalism: an anthropological perspective", Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 23 No. 1, pp. 2-15.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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