The Psychology of Cults and Marketing

By Brian Wallace

A cult is a group of people whose  beliefs or practices are considered abnormal or bizarre – usually refers to a  new religious movement. Although “cult members” seem few and far  between, there are an estimated 5 to 7 million Americans who  have been involved in cults, or cult-like  groups. The total number of these groups  ranges from 3,000 to 5,000 people.

Although, cults are not just  restrained to religious groups but can be found within marketing as well. Apple has  a group of users that are  considered to be “cult” like. There are over 66 million Mac users,  over 200 million iTunes accounts, and 1 in 10 cell phone users  has an iPhone. Also, 1 in 4 iPad buyers is a new Apple  customer.

When it comes to marketing communication,  cult brands  communicate with the market in unusually scarce,  deliberate  and very targeted marketing PR and promotions. This adds  mystique to the brand and rewards on the  inside. However, the boundaries within a cult is unlike most modern social  phenomena, they have a closed boundary. You’re either in or out – this creates  passionate solidarity.

So, how exactly do you join a cult? Cult brands are an exclusive club which  deliberately sacrifices a larger market for a smaller inner circle that is taken  through an elaborate “initiation” process to create committed solidarity.  With  cults, it’s not so easy getting in – you can’t just “walk” in  and join. There is a definite process to joining  which converts a person’s whole outlook.

In marketing,  there is a passionate community. A cult brand’s loyal usership is bound  to the brand’s mission. It is a community  with its own rituals, vocabulary, and often hierarchy.  They become not mere users, but crucial ambassadors for the brand –  in effect, unpaid  employees. Cults, however, are a  parallel social universe with their own rituals, relationship  structures  and experiences. This binds individuals to the  cause.

Lastly, each brand in marketing acts like it is “on a mission from God.” With a strong, central ideology and leadership. This  gives the brand much larger  meaning. The cult has an ideology and programs what each  member thinks and does. They  have strong central ideology and leadership. This fosters  alignment  and clarity.

Fonte: Businnes 2 Community



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