Can India Lead The Passion Economy?

The community app market enabling the passion economy is seeing tremendous growth and retention of audience globally, helping Creators earn money by selling products like eBooks, coaching, counseling, consulting, and niche content.


Over the last century, we saw the transition of our economy from being material-driven to an information-based and digital technology-driven economy leading to an explosion of data used by brands and platforms to steal consumer attention. At times digital products and services come free in exchange for our attention and personal information, including our footprints in the digital world. 

This attention economy comes with a hefty price tag- an invasion of privacy, opinion-based polarized society, black hat search engine, or click tricks for ad revenue. Is the attention economy on the wane now? Consumers no longer like to be a target of algorithm-driven marketing or be the dots in their search for the data stream. There is a trend of lesser time spent on social media by a large section of people. The authors find a growing practice of individuals creating and sharing content with the community having similar passions. This marks a departure from the usual practice of sharing and consuming non-specific content with an increasing realization of spending too much time on social media, ignoring the money value of time.  

The ad-based revenue model that saw many social platforms turning into the most valuable tech companies will not work for them for the next trillion-dollar valuation. Welcome to passion economy, or creator economy that has created a platform for interactions based on shared interest. The passion economy presents an opportunity to capitalize on our passion and creativity by engaging content owners with an engaged community. Be it a culinary skill or a piece of a painting by creative and so-called faceless ordinary people, giving rise to a new form of a marketplace with enormous potential for commerce and the economy. Individuality is the key, with passionate people on both sides of the platform.  

While the usual marketplace or digital platform primarily deals with products, this new marketplace deals with creative services or works from people. Passion economy provides the freedom to the people to work when they want, where they want, and most importantly, what they want. Creators thereby can monetize their community as against gaming the system to seek people’s attention. Fashion designers, health and fitness experts, film personalities, politicians, artists, musicians, celebrities, YouTubers have a common problem, to create a platform to share their passion with a community. Many community media platforms have emerged to fill this gap, such as Disciple.  

Unlike Facebook or a website, it empowers the community to host, build, manage, and control their own private, social apps giving their own mobile meeting spaces to interact. Such community apps help find an audience at scale for creators to turn their passion into a livelihood. With the lowered barrier to entrepreneurship, passion economy provides a broader choice of products or services to consumers, becoming the next big disruptor across industries. Talent-based industries are at risk of disruption by passion economy audiences. This is a wake-up call for incumbent businesses since new entrants provide a wide array of innovative choices. The passion economy heralds the age of micro-influencers where they can support themselves without selling to giant aggregators or organizations. Etsy, a creator economy player, sold masks worth $346 million between April- June 2020. 

The community app market enabling the passion economy is seeing tremendous growth and retention of audience globally, helping Creators earn money by selling products like eBooks, coaching, counseling, consulting, and niche content.  There are three main elements in the passion economy that works together; the creator, who creates the business with a passion; the digital platform, which supports the creator to produce or service; and the market, where the transaction takes place.  

During the pandemic, Alex, the founder of ‘Hello My Tribe,’ created an online community where a new mom can share her motherhood challenges and experiences with other moms who have gone through the same ordeal. She started an online course focusing on wellness for postpartum moms and an app where women can connect to seek advice and support each other. Many research findings reveal that Gen Z is increasingly getting tired of their routine jobs and desires to have flexibility, freedom, and, most importantly, the purpose of doing something they are passionate about. This next generation will influence our future of work and make way for the Passion Economy. The power now moves from the Attention Economy to the Passion Economy driven by numerous faceless long-tail Creators, from marketing to the audience to marketing to the community, with individual talents unbundling the enterprise in the creative space.  

While the market size of the passion economy is under study, one can easily guess what size it would be in India, a land with more than a billion minds freely following their dreams and passion. The passion economy is also a creator of a new model of entrepreneurship.  As per the report of Positive Moves Consulting Pvt. Ltd., over 60 per cent of top executives left their leadership roles in the last year in India to join smaller firms, unicorns/ soon to be unicorns or small/mid-sized ventures supported by private equity.  

They preferred to create personal wealth gains in place of fixed salaries. As per the ET, top executive like Vivek Sundar has joined Cuemath from Swiggy; Vivek Gambhir to Boat from Cipla; Suhail Sameer to BharatPe from RPG; and Nikhil Chopra to JB Chemicals from Cipla. Can India weave the magic of this new disruption called passion economy to take the lead in the new global business order? 

The article is written by Dr. Mafruza Sultana, Jagdish Sheth School of Management and Dr. Asit K Barma, Director and Professor, Bharathidasan Institute of Management. 

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