Let’s get something right off the table. This is not another article about Instagram/Tik-Tok influencers. Or at least not about people who would call themselves that. It is about people that can and do influence us, especially when it comes to our purchase behaviors during COVID-19 context.

In the past months, we can see an acceleration of what people call the Passion Economy/ Solo Capitalists/ One person companies. So, what are they? At a basic level, it’s about harnessing a talent or skill until it becomes a business. It’s important to point out that they have a “hard skill” that they professionalize vs being only entertainers. The “secret ingredient” of their appeal? Trust. But why are increasingly relevant?

It comes down to 4 big drivers: higher trust in individuals vs institutions, a cultural shift towards more “human’ creative work vs automatization, willingness to pay directly for the expertise and work from home “side effects”.

On top of that, this year seems to be a tipping point because of enabling companies growth: Substack, Discord, Teachable, Bandcamp,etc. What they bring to the table are creator-centered monetization models that are seen as fair vs exploitative. Starting from creative areas such as journalism & design, they are now expanding into atypical areas such as healthcare (Increadiblehealth.com) and education (Outschool). They provide creators with tools from newsletter subscription plans to “productization” and packaging. One can consider them a form of Uber-isation but one where the driver has a lot more negotiation power.

Why is this trend important?

It has the potential to disrupt incumbent brands because it overrides traditional offerings. At first, this might just be the case for lower volume target segments who can’t necessarily afford the product/service in its traditional form, but also more and more people view the one-person-company as a more credible/reliable offering. Markets with lots of intermediaries and generic value propositions are especially vulnerable. Instead of buying a subscription plan for 3-4 business magazines why not buy a newsletter subscription for 10EUR where you get a thorough analysis of what’s important. Also, unlike the gig-economy, the passion-economy entrepreneur has the option to scale – he is not limited by one delivery at a time for example.

For brands, there is a big opportunity to become part of the creative person’s “stack” and find ways to support them and their community vs the forced product/service endorsement.