What Is the Parallel Economy?

Here’s Why You Should Be Paying Attention to the Parallel Economy


Originally published August 2023. Last Updated March 2024.

You may have been hearing a lot lately about something called the parallel economy.

The term “parallel economy” has been used to describe black markets, regional economies, and is also the name of a payment processor by Rumble.

But the parallel economy we’re referring to is entirely different…

It’s an observable phenomenon happening in our hyper-polarized society. The term is most often used to describe the emergence of new technologies and a booming free-speech-centered ecosystem expanding into the tech sector.

It differs from traditional innovation because consumers aren’t transitioning away from services or products simply because a product is better, but because it aligns or prescribes to their cultural values or political ideology.

What Caused the Development of the Parallel Economy?

While it’s hard to narrow down an exact starting point of the parallel economy, there are catalysts that precipitated its emergence and critical events that mark its expansion.

– One of the most important catalysts is the rampant shadowbanning and Twitter suspensions of prominent conservative accounts that accelerated following the 2016 election cycle.

– Following the wake of the 2020 election, another key event was the banning of President Trump’s social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Shopify, and other platforms. This resulted in a surge of new conservative players in Big Tech and triggered a mass exodus from traditional platforms into the new parallel economy.

– Another catalyst that immediately followed was the removal of the social media platform Parler from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store during one of its most significant periods of growth, which resulted in the platform being removed from Amazon Web Services. Following pressure from the platforms, Parler made changes to their moderation tools and was allowed back on the Google Play Store.

– Another likely impetus is the adoption and promotion of “ESG Principles” that have led to companies prioritizing cultural agendas over product and service quality. This focus on these ESG values alienated a section of the consumer base and even led to boycotts.

– Most recently, Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter (now known as X) and the changes that ensued starkly divided political lines. Conservatives largely celebrated the changes and poured hundreds of thousands into advertising on the platform, while high-profile liberal users and ‘woke’ companies reconsidered their engagement and advertising investments.

So, where do those consumers go?

The parallel economy.

While the growth of the parallel economy started reactively, we’re now seeing it become more proactive. It’s not just consumers either. Prominent conservatives and “free speech advocates” are seizing the opportunity and starting direct competitors to social media and tech companies without catalysts. We’re even seeing high-level executives flee traditional companies to move into this new economy.

Examples of the Parallel Economy

You may already be participating in the parallel economy without knowing it.

If you have an account on Parler, Gettr, or Truth Social – welcome to the parallel economy! Here are a few more examples of companies in the traditional economy and their parallel economy counterparts.

Logos of companies that operate in the parallel economy

How You Can Leverage the Parallel Economy

While dividing platforms by party may not be great for healthy discourse, it does seem inevitable.

Will it foster innovation? Will the parallel economy overtake the traditional platforms? Or will people be skeptical to flock to these platforms?

Only time will tell.

The rapid growth of the parallel economy alone merits consideration and investigation of these new emerging platforms.

Early adoption of these many platforms may prove to be more than just a stopgap to censorship efforts, but a way to better connect with your target market, reach a new audience, or even boost engagement.

An omnichannel strategy is the best way to ensure that you reach the people you want, no matter what platforms they are using.

Our team of experts at IMGE can help you craft a winning strategy that leverages the parallel economy phenomenon. Contact us today to get started.

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