What do Anthony Hopkins, NFTs and new internet culture have in common? Surprisingly – they’re the way of the future. According to Droga5′s latest change report, The Rumble Theory, the way we interact on the internet is changing, and one of the ways that manifests itself is people wanting to own a little (or large) piece of digital history – which is where Sir Anthony Hopkins comes in. He recently launched his own NFT collection, and it became the most successful collection of the last six months. These were images from his career that had been slightly distorted and sold as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) – essentially unique digital identifiers that cannot be copied, substituted, or subdivided, and are recorded in a blockchain – to someone who really wanted to be a part of movie history.
Emma Sharkey, chief strategy officer, Droga5 Dublin, which is part of Accenture Song, says that The Rumble Theory change report is a huge body of research which seeks to give not only insight into what’s going on but foresight to their clients, so that they can be better prepared going into 2023 and beyond. “We started looking for change, but what we were seeing is what we would describe as ‘rumbles’' – these little sounds out there in society that things were changing. So, we decided to coin the phrase ‘the rumble theory’ and the idea of ‘find the rumble, find the hotspot of potential change’.”
Key areas of focus
The Rumble Theory report focused on three areas where significant change was occurring in attitudes, values and behaviour, says Sharkey. “Those areas were community, money and new internet culture. Within each, we found a distinct rumble.
“Communities are really stretching and looking at what we can change as a collective. With money, there’s a big movement in women’s wealth and women are pushing back against a system that wasn’t designed with them in mind. And perhaps the rumbliest of all – new internet culture.”
The report focused on these areas for a number of reasons, according to Sharkey. “Accenture had a global consumer survey, The Human Paradox, that was looking at a lot of things. The Droga5 team were looking for the patterns; the spikes and highlights that were jumping out that we could draw some interesting correlations from.
“We were also looking at some of the challenges our clients were facing. What were they as businesses and brands most concerned about? And most of the challenges were in those three areas, so it felt pertinent to focus on them.”
Building community – on and offline
Sharkey says that communities are pushing the very limits of what we can achieve as a collective – and not only in the real world, but online too. “We know that unions are on the rise, that people are looking for leverage against the system, against authority. That’s happening in the digital sphere as well.
“An example close to home in is the Instagram account, Crazy House Prices: what started as a fun internet account has fast become a community where people share information on bad landlords and poor listings and are trying to push against a system that’s not serving them, which is the housing system in particular. It was a really interesting example of how a community started around an interest – and online – but became an active union trying to change things in the real world.”
Wealth – and women
Another space that Droga5 put a lot of emphasis was in money. “Obviously with the cost-of-living crisis, money is a potent topic,” says Sharkey. However, the area they were particularly interested in was women and wealth. “We have seen during the pandemic that women were disproportionally affected and that’s proven to be true in this cost-of-living crisis as well. We all know about the ‘pink tax’ but inflation is actually over-indexing on the products and services that women purchase.
“And what we’ve seen is that women are actually pushing against a system that isn’t serving them and wasn’t designed with them in mind. For instance, even women with wealth and with money, one in three say they don’t trust the financial system and they don’t find the advice given serves them. What’s interesting about that is only 12 per cent of wealth managers are women and that has only gone up by 1.7 per cent in the last seven years according to Citywire’s Alpha Female report 2022. There’s a lack of representation for women in the space of money management and wealth.”
New internet culture
Sharkey says in relation to new internet culture there’s a lot going on and a lot of new terms to get your head around like the metaverse, NFTs, DOWs, decentralisation – but they wanted to investigate what’s really going on? How are people really reacting? What was interesting was 37 per cent of people describe their digital lives as just ‘their lives’. They don’t distinguish between the idea of my ‘real life’ and my ‘digital life’. And as a result, the idea of being able to own things online and represent yourself more realistically online has become more important.
“The number of people searching for software to create an avatar of themselves online has gone through the roof – 32.5 per cent year on year according to Statista in cooperation with Data.ai. We found that interesting, that people want to have a version of themselves consistent between their online and offline world and we were interested in how they were playing with that and playing with their sense of self.”
Helping businesses predict the future
So how does all this insight help Droga5 Dublin’s clients? “If we look at the different rumbles, and think about our client’s challenges and insights around their business – the question is how can we use this insight to amplify what they’re trying to achieve?” says Sharkey. “So in the space of wealth and knowing what we know about women pushing against a system that hasn’t been designed for them, what brands are we working with that can have a positive impact and push gender parity forward faster? There’s an opportunity there to solve something – and is your business in a position to help solve it?”
Sharkey says The Rumble Theory is helping Droga5 see the potential and opportunity but they also show the potential threat to a brand. “One reason we’re so interested in the power is we have to respect the power. If you fall foul of a particular digital community unintentionally you can cause yourself a lot of problems from a PR perspective.” Droga5′s Rumble Theory is clearly going to help their clients avoid that pitfall.
For more information see droga5.ie.