Selling to Different Tribes

A new buzzword has entered the vocabulary of marketers lately – “Tribe”. I was having this discussion with a group of industry folks lately and we all agreed that the term Tribe was much more appropriate than boxing customers into certain generations or age groups. There are plenty of so-called Millennials who shop like Xers and Xers who shop like Boomers and even more shoppers – let’s just call them people – who don’t fit into these confined boxes at all. For example “pet lovers” cross all generations – like coffee lovers, sports nuts, swimmers, music junkies and bookworms. You get what I’m saying… And yes, I just named some of my own tribes… And as I read more and more about the “tribe mentality” it seems that the internet helps facilitate membership – by allowing people to band together in forums, groups and pages. We are all members of multiple tribes. But for this discussion – this episode – I am going to talk about a few different tribes that are consuming our products these days. As growers, retailers, landscapers – however you fit into our industry – it’s time to think about these tribes and how we can make our products relevant to them.

We will start with people who live in condos, townhouses, high rises, apartments or whatever – folks without much of a yard – if any yard at all. Next, a tribe that is certainly not part of one specific generation or age group and is certainly unique in their wants and needs. They lead extremely eco-friendly and natural lifestyles. Self-sufficient and minimalist, this group of customers is all about reducing the impact they make on the Earth. Third, my tribe. A group with young kids, living in a single-family home with some space to garden. What this tribe doesn’t have is free time. Then onto a tribe often forgotten by garden retailers but certainly a potential customer base with disposable income – the business travelers.

Next, a group you know really well – recently retired folks. They’ve shopped your store for years, but the danger is assuming their lifestyle hasn’t changed. Oftentimes, with kids grown and out of the house, they now actually have time to garden. Lastly, the plant enthusiasts who know more than most of your staff. They’re the plant finders, versatile gardeners who love a challenge.

I know there are countless more tribes and people are members of many tribes each. So there’s plenty of danger painting a broad brush across groups of living breathing humans. But my goal in this episode is to help you think about the many customer groups you serve – as growers, retailers, landscapers, educators, garden communicators – YOUR PROFESSIONAL TRIBES – on a daily basis in an effort to start thinking about them differently. Consider the tribes that you sell to – what is it that makes them tick or gets them excited? And when you identify a tribe – start communicating with them – in person, via social media, by carving out product groups or by many other forms of messaging. Appealing to these different tribes might just be the ticket to increasing sales or positioning your business on the cutting edge.

Seth Godin’s TEDTalk – The Tribes We Lead:

Connect Four

STEM #4 – The Retail Color Bridge with Greg Soles talks a lot about Shoulder Season business and using new perennial breeding to drive Fall sales.

STEM #1 – Drama in the Garden with Dr. Marvin Miller is all about helping today’s shopper get back into the ground planting flower beds using more economical Jumbo Packs and other smaller plant packages.


Email Host Bill Calkins: [email protected]

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