The informal economy is growing and that is why The Engaging Brand podcast is looking wider than traditional business models, such as crowdfunding and 3D printing - the future will see many of these informal economies replace or enhance the traditional business model.
Makeshift point to an estimated informal economy of $10 trillion, employing 80% of people in emerging markets and fastest growing economy in the world!
In fact if a country then it would have the 2nd highest GDP in the world.
The informal economy is like a sandbox for the future...think of iTunes looking at how people were file sharing their digital music..an informal economy...and then turned it into a formal economy.
The informal economy is intriguing because it a networked economy based on values not value to specific shareholders.
The informal economy is our learning ground and now this is true more than ever because of the growth of the internet.
Social marketing can learn from this informal economy - it is like the customer panels of the past but much bigger, much more influential because
"if you don't give consumers what they want....then they have the power to go and make it happen themselves"
Still don't think so?
They can fund an idea - Kickstarter
They can source specialist help - Elance
They can have their own radio show - podcasts
They can have their own tv station - You Tube
They can have easy payment systems - Google Checkout
They can have their own store - eBay, Amazon
Yes, it isn't easy, but the possibility is there...and once the possibility is there, customers are a lot less forgiving....it's not that they want to do this...it is that unless business changes to represent what the informal economy is offering....more personalisation, more input, more speed, more choice....then they will have to turn away from you.
If the formal - or traditional business models don't react to either joining, merging or learning from the informal economy then traditional may just become...well, redundant!