Case Study Consumer Behavior
PARROT HEADS UNITE!
Are you a Parrot Head? If you don’t know what that is, then you definitely are not. Jimmy Buffett
fans all over the world proudly refer to themselves by this name. In many respects, they rep-
resent one of the most dedicated fan bases anywhere. Why the name Parrot Head? In a 1985
concert, a member of the Eagles looked at the audience members with their bright Hawaiian shirts.
He announced that they “looked like Deadheads in tropical suits. They’re like Parrot Heads.”
Some critics think Jimmy Buffett’s career peaked in the late 1970s, though between 1978 and
2006 he released eight gold, six platinum, and three multiplatinum records. During this period he
gained a reputation for his concerts, wrote five best sellers, and opened a chain of restaurants.
Walmart sells Margaritaville salsa and Target carries Margaritaville calamari.
Buffett fans gather by the thousands at concerts. A Buffett concert is like a beach party, with fans
decked out in Hawaiian shirts and parrot hats. But the concert itself is only part of the event. Fans
get to know each other year after year at tailgate parties. So many people party before Buffett
concerts, in fact, that many venues charge admission now just to get into the tailgating area.
How die-hard are Buffett fans? Consider that many plan regular vacations around a Buffett concert
(some have racked up dozens) or special trips to visit Buffett-themed restaurants in Caribbean
destinations. Houses, boats, and RVs decked out in tropical Buffet décor are not uncommon, and
there have been a good number of Parrot Head–themed weddings.
Buffett fans come from all walks of life, age groups, and occupations; they typically cite
“escapism” as a reason for their devotion. But Parrot Heads do much more than just “wasting away
again in Margaritaville.” Many spend their free time as volunteers at blood drives, raise thousands
of dollars to grant the wishes of sick kids, or build houses for the needy. Parrot Heads in Paradise, a
group of fans with more than 220 chapters, has donated more than $10 million to charity.
Buffett’s management recognizes the charitable efforts of the Buffett community. Parrot Head
clubs get a certain number of tickets allocated to them. Members still have to pay for them, but
they get first dibs on the best seats depending on how many Parrot Points (doled out to members
when they partici- pate in charitable or volunteer efforts) they earn. As tickets have become
harder and harder to obtain, this is indeed a welcome bonus.
After reviewing the case, please answer the following questions:
1. How can Jimmy Buffett fans be considered as members of a reference group? A brand community?
2.Consider your responses to question 1. What kind of opportunities does the existence of the Buffet community present to marketers? Develop a list of specific marketing and promotional tactics.
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