Bubble-Up Culture

Bubble-Up Culture. Popular culture was traditionally “trickle down”, and shaped by the few media gatekeepers with scaled audiences. Shaped by a combination of splintering attention, touchpoint proliferation and audience fragmentation, communities and creators will be more influential than ever across a decentralized media ecosystem. The formation and diffusion of culture is undergoing a shift which is eroding the idea of brands reaching the “mainstream”. Everything from social movements to the latest fads now emerge from disparate communities – whether based around influencers, passions or hobbies – that function entirely independently. TikTok is the main platform upending how entertainment content is made, discovered and enjoyed. Brands must tap into community-first culture in 2023. (M)

This trend originates from the report:

WARC - The Marketer’s Toolkit 2032

The formation and diffusion of culture is shifting towards a "bubble-up" phenomenon, driven by communities and creators across a decentralized media ecosystem. This change is eroding the idea of brands reaching the mainstream, and marketers must grapple with questions around building relevance, audiences, and engagement at a meaningful scale. To tap into the power of community-first culture, brands must diversify their research methods, as quantitative research alone will not suffice.

Instead, they should use qualitative research to identify communal patterns, cues, and values, analyze community hierarchies, and trace interconnections between groups. The rise of "bubble-up" culture has also led to the importance of fan communities. These communities are in-built audiences for new products, and they enable monetization based not on mass appeals and advertising, but on propulsion towards the mainstream by a movement.

Brands must tap into these communities and perceive themselves as a plural entity with different meanings for distinct audiences but shared relevance for all of them. They should also reassess customer journeys, as some buyers may purchase based on community recommendations and "discover" a brand afterward. Lastly, media plans need to be rethought in "bubble-up" culture.

Tribe-based approaches can be coupled with mass or one-to-one communications, and contextual targeting can be used to develop awareness and credibility with communities using ads before pursuing deeper engagement. Brands must track changing audience dynamics and find appropriate niches, reach can be augmented with "lookalike" communities..