By Jason Wyatt, Managing Director Marketplacer
The first time you change your baby’s nappy is like a symbolic rite of initiation. You’ve gone through the pregnancy, did all the things like buy a cot and stroller, picked a name, and experienced the joys and wonder of your child’s birth.
Now it’s you and this cooing, gurgling little bundle of human lying on a change table waiting for you to take care of business and clean up its mess. Things just got real.
The reality of parenthood hits people at different times and in different ways. But for pretty much everyone, it’s life-changing. Your priorities change, you fret about things on the news you never paid attention to before, and you start to live your life around the needs of this precious thing rather than your own whims and fancies.
You’re now in a local parents’ group, complete with its own Facebook page, and you’re scheduling playdates and catch-ups with other friends who also have kids. Movies like Parenthood suddenly make perfect sense!
Sometimes you don’t even need words to communicate with other members of this tribe – you can spot a fellow parent across the room by the hollowed out eyes that scream ‘I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in three months!’
All this parenting talk takes me back a couple of years to when I first met Kerri Turner, who heads up online marketplace TiniTrader. We were both going through the initial stages of the parenting thing. I was also busy trying to take what we had done with Bike Exchange and turn it into something that could be applied to different marketplaces – like children’s products, as in the case of TiniTrader. Kerri came on board and we got TiniTrader up and running.
Reading this article by digital anthropologist Rahaf Harfoush reminded me of how, partly through self-recognition, we had homed in on this tribe – we had recognised in their bleary eyes and pukey baby shoulder patches the badges of membership.
While Harfoush is not talking in specifically commerce terms, her definition of a digital tribe as “high intimacy/long-term engagement” fits well with how we saw the concept too:
This represents an online community with a deep and vibrant digital culture. There’s a shared history, unique vocabulary (group-specific acronyms/memes/inside jokes). There is a longevity to the community that exists even if there is a frequent level of membership churn. Participants are highly engaged and active.
That’s what we had seen with Bike Exchange – people who were highly engaged and active members of an online community. We saw an online marketplace as a naturally complementary element to that tribal experience. With TiniTrader, we identified the same markers.
We talk a bit here at Marketplacer about the concept of tribes and how the evolution of online has created this proliferation of them. TiniTrader, powered by Marketplacer’s online marketplace software, was created to give the parental tribe a better way to shop for prams, cots, and whatever else junior needs.
We recognised that all parents fussed and worried about their child’s nursery, pram, bath things, change tables, etc. And there was nothing in the way of a centralised and convenient point for buying these things. So TiniTrader made perfect sense. We had taken the step from changing nappies to changing how parents shopped for children’s products.