Market Research Qualitative Research

Tribes and Territories: A New Way to Understand Competitors and Customers – Part 3

Where are your brand’s territories?

The Tribes and Territories technique allows marketers to understand their brand’s territory beyond geography and demographics. Your brand’s territory exists in the mind of the consumer. It is defined by what and how people think about your brand. By understanding your territory, you are better able to craft those important connections that bond your tribe to your brand.

What do we mean by territory?

Your brand’s territory is those attributes, features, or messages that are completely dominated by your brand – those assets that your brand owns in the marketplace. While other brands may also have the same attributes, features, or messages, they don’t use them in talking about their brand competitively because they are so firmly associated with your brand. For a competitor to attempt to use your brand’s territory would be a waste of marketing dollars. Additionally, many brands have multiple territories.

Here are some examples:

  • A great territory example is Sunny D, or the orange flavored drink known as Sunny Delight. This brand owns the “sunshine” territory. If you look at all of the imagery for Sunny D, it looks like a summer’s day: hot, sunny colors (yellow, orange, red) and a little red-haired kid with freckles. Compare that territory to Simply Orange Juice, who claim their product is plain and simple 100% orange juice, with no additives, and never frozen. Even their packaging reflects this territory, with its clean graphic of an orange. Sunny D’s and Simply Orange’s tribes are attracted by their brand’s unique territory.
  • The great equalizer, McDonald’s, owns the territory of being the place for everyone. No matter who you are – seniors, kids, families, young adults – you can make mealtime memories at McDonald’s. While their advertising focuses on product and price, their restaurant design provides something for everyone with playground, round corner tables to make it easier to get in and out, and other design features. You don’t even have to read to understand their menu board – you just order by number! McDonald’s owns the territory of welcoming all types of people.
  • Consider BMW and Mercedes. When you think of these brands, what territory do you find for them? Both brands are luxury cars, both are highly engineered, both are German, and both are expensive. What territories does each own? And how do they overlap? Understanding each car brands’ territories is vital to crafting effective brand position and marketing strategies.

By understanding your brand’s territories, you can make marketing decisions that strengthen and enhance your ownership of that territory. Further, understanding how your brand territories overlap with or are different from your competitors can help you identify competitive advantage. Further understanding the gaps and overlaps between your brand’s territory and that of other brands, you can identify potential brand extensions, merger and acquisition candidates, as well as messaging and promotion strategy to leverage your territory. But most importantly, by understanding your brand’s territories, you can strengthen your brand’s bonds with its tribe.

What if you don’t have a clear territory in the mind of the consumer? There’s no time like the present to find one! The Tribes and Territories technique, in addition to identifying strong territories, can help brands with weak territories understand what options available, what competitors are in those territories, and how those territories might be taken over.

Again, a territory is not about understanding what is, it’s about understanding what and how people (your tribe) think about brands. It’s not what your competitors are saying about themselves; it’s about what consumers are saying about them (and you). By opening your perspective and fully understanding your territories, you have access to a powerful competitive weapon.

Who is your Brand’s Tribe? Where are your Brand’s Territories? Contact FeltonBuford Partners to learn more!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *