The Increasing Importance of Social Groups

Do you wonder what people will value most within the next few years? It is quite amazing to think about how fast preferences change as a society. In the scheme of things, a few years is quite a short time. In his article published in Marketing News, J. Walker Smith dives into the idea that social groups will be a leading currency for brands. I want to share a few insights that I found in this article and give some thoughts of my own.

The Trend

The first idea that J. Walker Smith shares is about the general feeling that the U.S. is growing farther apart and becoming ever more divided. With so many affiliations and parties, it appears that our world as we know it is diverging. The reality, however, is that we are tightly connected through many small social groups. These groups are focused on relationships and are built on the foundation of kinship. Smith describes these social groups as many smaller worlds. If you think about the history of the marketplace, this trend makes sense. From World War II to the present the US has gone from a demand for material goods to experience. Now we see a demand for genuine relationships.

The Message for Businesses

As people seek connection to groups, businesses should be prepared to provide the medium where people can feel like they are part of the community. It comes down to this point made by Smith: “Relationships are driving spending.” This sentiment has been evident in business for some time now, but it is increasingly important. It used to be that people consumed products as a means of self-expression and individuality; while that is still true, social connection through genuine relationships matter just as much.

Social media, of course, plays a role in social groups today. Interaction with your consumers should nurture trust. Instead of claiming that your product or service will make someone stand out, encourage current users to share their experience with your business with the people they know. How can you champion social sharing for your product? It starts by focusing on what you do best within your business and then perfecting it. As you fill a need for people through your product or service and do it exceptionally well—those people will be inspired to share.


Social communities and tight-knit groups are not going away. The world as we know it is a collection of unique groups that are broad and diverse. These groups are the color and flavor of life. A business who understands how to provide experiences where these groups can build community will be able to drive their business forward.

Article summary by Michael Peterson, Social Media Marketer at ANS

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