I had a great conversation with a young French entrepreneur, based in NYC and Paris, who's going to launch a business dedicated to a specific "underground" community of artists. We made a comparison with Nail Art phenomenon in Europe, that we had the chance to discover 2 years ago.
After some monitoring of online conversations, and a strong mapping of communities of influencers in the beauty / cosmectics field, we've discovered that the 3rd centre of interest for French beautistas is Nail Art.
Something which was absolutely amazing at this stage, as traditional media and mass-consumption brands were absolutely not talking about this trend. Take Grazia for instance: there are still very few articles on this specific topic, whereas thousands of conversations are related to Nail Art.
And it's something big: communities that are related to niche fields, are now able to structure themselves, create synergies, endeavour an influential weight and strongly exist, even if classic key opinion leaders think it's "subculture". Having discussed with some journalists but also with editors in chief 2 years ago about Nail Art, their point of view was that it was just "crap", "popular", "weak".
But that's the true revolution: a community can get rid of a traditional opinion journey, connecting with other networks. In the case of Nail Art, it started with TumblR and blogs, then some brands understood the business potential of Nail Art and started to institutionalize some Nail Art Talents. Famous brands like Yves Saint Laurent are just starting to launch Nail Art "capsule" collections, and sales skyrocket. That's the point: subcultures have the chance to demonstrate that they are not niche nor sub, but massive.
Digital culture as a whole is increasingly becoming the dominant culture. Communities don't structure themselves only for "causes" or to generate a bad buzz, but to truly implement a new business environment. Subcultures are no longer "sub" but hyphenating strong networks.
That's probably an hypothesis for the development of shared-value: the means that brands and established stakeholders implement to generate hyphens with rising interests they don't control.