Are you plain, ruled or squared? —
Tribal Marketing of the Mundane

I've recently noticed that I'm not alone in clutching my trusty moleskin notebook at the café catch-up or in the boardroom. Originally bound in oilcloth, this little book had all but disappeared following its heyday of the 1920’s, until a Milanese publisher successfully revived it at the turn of the century. So successfully in fact that it now resides in over 10 million bags and boardrooms like mine across the globe.

But how can a product, that is after all only a blank notebook, achieve such a distinctive high-end status?

There is no question that the success of Moleskine is very much down to the energetic evangelism of its online fans. With multiple blogs, over 50 Facebook pages, 100,000 people sharing photos and more than 14,000 members on Flickr the online community of Moleskine fanatics is extensive.

The company has fostered this movement by creating a number of social media channels through which users share their own Moleskine paintings, drawings and writings with fellow followers. Such initiatives have created a strong sub-culture and loyal community surrounding this seemingly innocuous little book. Moleskines now bring consumers together from all parts of the world, sharing with each other a unique connection.

If you're lucky to be in New York on January 30th for example, Moleskine is hosting a special event. Moleskine Portraits is an evening of where fans explore the imagination and identity that has informed the design of every collection Moleskine through interactive portrait making. Such an event is an excellent example of narrow niche tribal marketing at its best, offering an engaging and captivating experience for its loyal followers.

How many companies do we know that could build a similar loyal fan base across the globe? Achieving intimacy with customers is about encouraging people to personalise their wants from your product.

Everyone wants to know they've made the right decision about your product, and only by engaging with it on multiple emotional levels do they truly arrive at the justification for the premium they paid you for the experience. I get through 5 or 6 of these expensive little notebooks per year, and never throw any of them away. I feel each one holds a special piece of me, and each has its own story to tell.

Moleskine presents to us an example of tribal marketing at its best, where a product divides into a myriad of end-user stories, engaging and captivating each consumer on such a personal level they feel the product truly defines a piece of who they are.