The Passion Economy

In 2014, I had this to say about the trend of putting a word in front of the word economy and declaring a new era: Something Economy: seems like a popular trend – stick a word in front of economy and use it to describe the next big thing. Some of these words are: Peer, Maker, Sharing, Gig, Collaborative, Green, Circular, Mesh, Digital, Innovation, semantic, and more.

Back then the feeling was that this combining of words speaks to the truly disruptive nature of the early 21st century. Well, the trend continues: welcome to the Passion Economy! This Article by Benjamin Vaughan describes the passion economy as follows: the passion economy is a new wave of niche communities that are challenging traditional social media giants. Instead of the generalized and non-specific content of larger social media platforms, the niche communities focus on creating and sharing content that resonates with individuals.

Mr. Vaughan states that the waning interest in the attention economy (there we go again) is the reason for the emerging passion economy. The attention economy is defined by Wikipedia as:

As content has grown increasingly abundant and immediately available, attention becomes the limiting factor in the consumption of information. A strong trigger of this effect is that the mental capability of humans is limited and the receptiveness of information is hence limited as well. Attention is used to filter the most important information by the human brain from a large pool of information surrounding the human in the digital age.

The attention economy therefore focuses on gaining and keeping our attention; and as the article notes, we have few illusions about how social media giants are profiting from that attention. Disciple SurveyPer the article, these practices are beginning to tire us – which I will not dispute, but it is hard to see in the ongoing use of dominant platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Yet according to Research from Disciple, 52 percent of respondents are desperate to cut the cord and spend less time on their social accounts. Mr. Vaughan draws a linkage between these findings and the emergence of the passion economy, where a space is created for interactions that are based on sincere, shared passions and interests.

This shift from attention to passion has evidently gained the interest of brands, as they look to capitalize on the fact that passions are far more valuable an asset than they’d previously recognized. From a passion perspective, the opportunity exists for individuals to turn their interests into livelihoods – a possible foreshadowing of what is to come, as society pursues automation. This same phenomenon could serve as a disrupter, as competitors emerge to challenge traditional offerings. As COVID-19 pushes us online at greater rates, it will be interesting to see where this new something economy takes us.

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