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Deconstructing consumer tribes with text analytics and semiotics

Deconstructing consumer tribes with text analytics and semiotics

Identifying vibrant consumer tribes requires brands and agencies to use every tool at their disposal. That was the clear takeaway from Relative Insight’s latest Spotlight Series webinar, where guest speakers outlined how you can use text analysis and semiotics to build a more detailed picture of target consumers.

Yvette Stimson, Senior Account Manager at Relative Insight, outlined how analyzing open-ended survey data on vaping surfaced five distinct tribes within this group of consumers in under 90 minutes:

“By analyzing open and closed responses, we were able to identify themes and repeated linguistic patterns which became indicators to help us shape and define these different tribal groups.”

Mark Lemon, Associate Director at semiotics and cultural insights agency Sign Salad, highlighted the need to consider underlying cultural associations when it comes to understanding consumers, and explained how semiotics supports this:

“As humans, we are inherently drawn to meaning. When we share meaning, we do so indirectly; employing various semiotic resources to communicate these ideas. These encompass everything from our language choices, fashion choices, habits, hobbies and purchasing behaviors. All of these decisions communicate notions about our values and identity.”

You can watch the full webinar using the video below. Read on for a summary of Yvette and Mark’s discussion about consumer tribes.

Five consumer tribe examples found within vaping

Both Yvette and Mark showcased the consumer tribes within vaping surfaced by each type of analysis.

Using text analytics, Relative Insight pinpointed five tribes linked by values, lifestyle choices and purchasing intent. These five were: Health Healers, Tinker Tailors, Conscious Curators, Mercurial Magpies and Flavor Finders.

“These groups transcend traditional profiling,” Yvette noted. “A magpie could be any age or gender and use any brand. These groups share personal values and have outlooks and purchasing habits common to each other.”

Sign Salad’s semiotic analysis revealed four consumer tribe examples which overlapped those gleaned through text analysis. These included Instantaneous Variety, which shared characteristics with Flavor Finders, and Tech Sophistication – almost a mirror image of Tinker Tailors. The semiotic study also discovered Manner Ritual and Approachable Fun vapers, with these groups containing elements of Conscious Curators and Mercurial Magpies respectively.

Mark said: “A semiotic analysis of vaping is particularly powerful because it’s related to the construction and creation of identity. Vaping is a part of people’s social behaviors – whether they choose to be seen vaping or not, or the clear visual distinction between the different types of vape devices, offer opportunities for communicating different values.”

To find out more about Relative Insight’s research identifying tribes through vaping, download the report.

Tribes also present in professional settings

Mark also outlined how the agency has used a combination of semiotics and text analysis to identify tribes within professional settings. He cited an example involving healthcare practitioners.

Sign Salad’s client identified four types of US medical professionals based on purchasing behaviors. However, the client didn’t understand the values, underlying meanings and key emotional drivers of these groups. By analyzing research interview transcripts, Sign Salad surfaced the differences between them.

The language and symbolism used by each group illustrated their mindsets. Strong Fighters saw treatments as a ‘battle’ against diseases, Curious Investigators envisioned healing as a series of steps on a journey, Empathetic Caregivers viewed their work from a patient’s perspective, and practitioners in the Cautious Control group took a structured and formal approach to treating health populations.

By surfacing these values, the agency was able to suggest examples of tailored communications which would resonate with different practitioners:

  • Strong Fighters: “The weapon you need in your treatment battle.”
  • Curious Investigators: “A thorough tool that opens up patient options.”
  • Empathetic Caregivers: “A helping hand to improve patients’ quality of life.”
  • Cautious Control: “Reliable control to manage patient symptoms.”

Mark added: “This is a way of addressing the key semiotic needs of these different groups through language. You can take the same treatment and refer to it in ways that appeal to those groups.”

Utilizing different sources to decode tribes

Each speaker’s talk highlighted the need to incorporate a variety of perspectives and data sources to develop richer, more insightful consumer tribes – rather than the narrow personas many brands and agencies currently rely on.

Utilizing semiotics and text analytics, Sign Salad augmented existing healthcare practitioner personas. By integrating interview transcript data, the agency supported its client in being able to develop better-targeted messaging which resonated with professionals within each of the tribes.

Relative Insight defined consumer tribes which transcend vaping by analyzing survey data. The survey asked 1,000 vapers a mix of closed and open-ended questions, with the open-ends gathering information ranging from what they like about vaping through to hobbies and motivations.

This blend of lifestyle and vaping-specific open-ends, split using data points collected through closed questions about respondents’ preferred vape device, brand, age and much more, identified similarities between consumers in each segment. This provided the foundations for identifying the five consumer tribes by uncovering information, such as women being 9.6x more likely to talk about the appearance and packaging of vape products.

“Historically, survey open-ends have been viewed as a mess of unstructured data which is difficult to extract value from,” noted Yvette. “At Relative Insight we love survey open-ends because our tool allows you to quickly and easily get value out of that data.”

Intrigued about how Relative Insight can change your approach to quantifying text data and hone your consumer targeting? Speak to one of our team to learn how we can help you to better understand consumers.

Identify and understand consumer tribes