The Un-dependents Launch

Mums, dads, children, parents: we hear about them often – but what about the consciously child-free? Our new report celebrates those who have chosen to never have kids. Let us introduce the Un-dependents…

We are living in a time when more people are making the choice to not have children and the circumstances around this decision touches upon the unique stressors of today. A 2022 Ipsos poll found the top reasons why people across 30 different countries opted to not have a child: financial concerns (21%), career prospects (15%) and concerns due to the Covid pandemic (11%).

Meanwhile, brands aren’t talking to the consciously child-free, or connecting with their culture. They aren’t being discussed enough. In our new The Un-dependents report, we celebrate the unique opportunities of living as an adult without children.

From Chapter two: Meet the Un-dependents
From Chapter two: Meet the Un-dependents

The full report features: 

– The context that the Un-dependents are living in now, and the perspective-shifting events of the pandemic, recession and climate crisis. 

– Interviews with men and women in the US, UK and Europe about the realities of choosing to not have kids.

– How to think differently about the Un-dependents values and motivations; followed by some examples of strategies to speak to them. 

The Un-dependents: A report celebrating consciously child-free lives
The Un-dependents: A report celebrating consciously child-free lives

This report was special for us every time our interviewees shared their joy and reminded us of all the different ways to live a happy, fulfilled life. We hope you enjoy The Un-dependents as much as we did.

Download the full Un-dependents report here.

Crowd Shortcuts – a quick chat about something that’s caught our attention. This week, we're asking when did being ‘basic’ become something to shout about?

What’s all this then? Being ‘basic’ is shedding its shameful connotations and turning into something to be celebrated. In other words: lame is the name of 2023’s game

Catchy! But isn’t being ‘basic’ an insult? Well, it simply means enjoying things that are mainstream. It’s shorthand for an individual’s inability to tap into nicher, unconventional and eclectic themes that are considered more interesting. What we’re seeing now is people owning their ‘basic’ preferences. Enjoying cringy, mainstream things is their thing, and they’re not afraid to shout about it.  

That’s nice. Why do you think that is? After so much of the 2020s being about the development of niche aesthetics and an urgency to stand out, people are more or less ready to fit in. The pressure to be unique is giving way to the joy of collective appreciation. 

Phew, sounds like a lot less effort. Where can I see this in action? If you’ve been on any social platforms recently, you’ll have seen the ticket craze surrounding Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour. Videos of hysterical fans went viral as they displayed intense reactions to getting (or not getting) absurdly expensive concert tickets to a very popular, very mainstream artist. Their public outpourings had zero shame. 

Those Swifties! Where else is ‘basicness’ shining through? Pinterest’s 2023 trend report predicts ‘romcom core’ – people shamelessly dressing up as their favourite early Y2K romcom characters – as the aesthetic to watch (surprise, surprise: romcoms represent a more mainstream side of entertainment). In a similar light, recent hit shows like The White Lotus have people hunting on Google for the theoretical price of a White Lotus hotel stay, or step-by-step makeup tips from Jennifer Coolidge. 

Halloween 2023 is gonna be a big one. All this chat is making me hungry… bingo! Brunches are back. The more ‘basic’ the better (bottomless, anyone?). And, while it would’ve been semi-ghastly to post a food pic in the past, shameless basicness encourages those “no-one-eats-until-I-get-the-insta-worthy-shot” moments.

So does all this mean I can enjoy my pumpkin spice latte in public? Yes! When the time comes, enjoy your seasonal drink with zero hesitation. You may run into long lines of other like-minded pumpkin spice lovers, but there’s no time like the present to partake in the lamestream.

TL;DR: People are shunning social media’s ever-fracturing aesthetics in favour of simpler, mainstream joys. Take those UGGs out of storage and wear them without fear of public humiliation – you will be the trendiest person everywhere you go.

Captions As Content

We spoke to the Crowd team about how captions connect people, develop global citizenship, and have a big impact in just 50 characters...

Twitter has demanded we distil our thoughts down to 280 characters. But the real mastery of language these days is being shown on captions. The caption – ideally 1-50 characters – may be taxingly short, but once mastered, it is a content device with multiple compelling uses and opportunities. 

In a time when the caption plays such a big role in streaming, social media and gaming, a text version of short dialog or sound effects is very important. Of course, it makes popular content more accessible for the deaf or hard of hearing. But it is also influencing culture on a global scale. The care and diligence the subtitler takes on streaming TV content for all the various languages, for example, can make all the difference to authenticity for the audience.

We’re also seeing how captions are changing behaviour: teenagers prefer to watch their shows with subtitles on (four out of five viewers aged 18-25 use subtitles all or part of the time, Stagetext, 2021), while it’s captions-as-convo on gaming platforms like Roblox. But what are the challenges and rewards of using captions in content?

Getting translations right could give global content platforms a competitive edge. Crowd DNA’s Jennifer Simon (associate director, semiotics), describes captions as “a powerful tool of communication” but warns: “Captions are often overlooked.”

She says: “Unsurprisingly, they are often seen as neutral labels – but they are anything but. They communicate a host of hidden, culturally specific meanings.”

For example, when Korean drama Squid Game was released, native Korean speakers pointed out that both the English dubs and subtitles for Squid Game were inaccurate – and communicated different cultural meanings. “As we can see here, the meanings of captions depend heavily on our cultural context – ultimately influencing how we interpret and understand the intended message.” 

Meanwhile, we rely more and more on captions to perform our own lives – and comprehend others. Reading captions helps us with a basic need of our time: it aids multi-screen use.

Rachel Rapp (director, futures), says: “Captions are playing a huge role in our multi-screen lives.”

She explains: “Captions are everywhere and now allow us to watch a reel at the same time as a TV series. A meme we’re enjoying is usually summarised in the text overlayed so that our short attention spans can grasp the joke fast – without distracting us from our work, or the episode we’re stuck into. We caption every picture we post.”

Captions also allow us to embrace our growing global citizenship. Now that captions are on so much of our media, reading them is no longer seen as hard work. This influences the success of international dramas as we’ve seen with Squid Game (Korean) or Money Heist (Spanish). And this exposure to international content helps our growing global citizenship.

And finally, it’s also another tool in the kit for the creator community. Chloe Swayne (senior designer, Socialise) says: “The ways in which we see captions being used both as a visual aid and a visual device are evolving – most rapidly within social media. Essentially handing captioning control over to the creator has enabled us to create a whole new visual language – on how words and pictures ought to interact.”

For brands and content producers there’s a lot to think about when it comes to captions. But let’s end this short-ish conversation acknowledging that the art of keeping things neat and to the point has always been a sweet spot in content. And with captions – and mastery of 1-50 characters – that’s now more than ever.  


Last in our debunking-the-metaverse series, we present five things you can actually get your head around…

1. The metaverse does not exist yet 

We hate to burst the bubble, but current metaverse activations grabbing the headlines are actually just online experiences that have been around for ages. The total convergence of physical and digital life just isn’t technologically possible yet. Read more in our first post here.

2. When people say metaverse they mean gaming + digitalisation and a bit of crypto

The term ‘metaverse’ has a lot to answer for. At the moment, it’s an attention-grabbing buzzword for the world’s impending web3 reality. However, when you actually unpick what people are talking about, it’s just gaming innovations and crypto experiments.   

3. Don’t fool yourself, a lot of current activations are just fads 

Digital burgers? Love Island’s virtual getaway? Need we say more. 

4. Real world shifts are a precursor for how the metaverse will develop 

The clues of the metaverse lie in genuine human needs. Currently, however, the discourse is dominated by over-commercialised fast culture that responds to the needs of a few. To predict the direction that the metaverse will take, we need to inspect slow culture – those slower moving societal shifts within areas like family and work. Read more in our post here

5. Listen to people, join cultural conversations, show genuine interest, grow along alongside them 

If the goal, as a brand or business, is to use the metaverse to interact with consumers, don’t just jump on the bandwagon (a stance explored more in our post here). To become truly relevant to audiences, it’s vital we listen to what they actually need and want from the endless possibilities of our metaverse future. 

This blog is based on our recent Crowd DNA Amsterdam webinar, which you can read here and watch in full here

The Metaverse In Numbers

As part of our debunking-the-metaverse series, we look at the big, small and out of this world numbers in its evolution…

As with any developing platform, there’s a lot of smoke and mirrors going on in the metaverse – some of which we’ve tried to clear a way through in this debunking series. We can also look at the numbers – the good, the bad and the salutary – and what they tell us about how the metaverse is being met by businesses, brands, consumers and communities today. So here are the numbers that reveal the now, next, and not ever of the metaverse.

The metaverse is older than you think… 

30 years

The word ‘metaverse’ was coined in the novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson in 1992. The metaverse was an online refuge from the dystopian meatspace.

…but it could come about quickly 


The percentage of people who will spend one hour a day in the metaverse for work, shopping, education, social, and/or entertainment by 2026 (Gartner, Inc).

How much? 

$13 trillion per year

The revenue that Citi and KPMG state the metaverse could generate by 2030. 

Metaverse platforms are bringing in the big bucks

$650,000 yacht

A luxury yacht with two helipads, several lounge areas, a jacuzzi and a DJ booth, sold as part of an exclusive luxury series developed for Sandbox (one of the largest gaming platforms). 

$4.3 million real estate 

On November 30 2021, metaverse investment company Republic Realm paid $4.3 million for land in The Sandbox metaverse to add to its 2,500 plots of digital land across 19 virtual worlds.

100 million log-ins

Nearly a hundred million people a day log onto Roblox, Minecraft, and Fortnite Creative platforms. 

Tech business is getting a slice of the meta-pie

1,100 regulatory filings

The US Securities And Exchange Commission reports that in the first six months of 2022, the word ‘metaverse’ appeared in regulatory filings more than 1,100 times. The previous year saw 260 mentions. 

$10 billion lost

In October 2021, Facebook changed its name to Meta and it now loses more than $10 billion each year on its metaverse initiatives.

$70 billion

In January, Microsoft announced the largest acquisition in Big Tech history, paying $70 billion for gaming giant Activision Blizzard, which would “provide building blocks for the metaverse.”

Culture has exploded into the metaverse

£10 million

The estimated value of paintings burned by artist Damien Hirst after 5,149 buyers chose instead to have an NFT of the artwork from his latest collection – aptly titled ‘The Commerce’. It is the most exciting project I have ever worked on by far,” says Hirst.

But there’s still a (very) long way to go…  


The very low number of “active users” in the community of Decentraland (DappRadar)

This blog is based on our recent Crowd DNA Amsterdam webinar, which you can read here and watch in full here

Next in our debunking-metaverse-myths series, we look at how to predict where it's going next… 

The metaverse is currently swamped by a lot of over-commercialised fast culture (see our previous post). To really understand the direction of the metaverse, we need to interrogate the real world – where real people with real problems live – by looking at slow culture. 

To recap: fast culture is made up of areas of society that change at pace, like food trends; slow culture is formed by areas that evolve over much slower periods of time, like family and work. The metaverse’s future doesn’t lie in gimmicky brand activations. It’s within slow culture that the real clues can be found. 

Crowd Signals 

At Crowd DNA, we work with nine cultural shifts that are at the foundation of societal and cultural change (see image below). We’ve devised these via our Crowd Signals hub, inspecting social data points to predict trends that ladder up to them. By using these shifts and translating them into a digital future, we can get a glimpse of the metaverse ahead.

Crowd Signals is structured around a bespoke taxonomy of nine fundamentals of modern life, each evidencing a cultural shift.
Crowd Signals is structured around a bespoke taxonomy of nine fundamentals of modern life, each evidencing a cultural shift.

Responsible Progress – Decentralised Fashion

There have been huge changes within the fashion industry over the past few years. Many of these have been as a result of its dark relationship with environmental waste, pollution and social injustice. Sustainable clothing is now available up and down the high street, and reusable or shared products are helping fight the war against fast fashion. 

But how is sustainable fashion playing out in the metaverse? Forward thinking businesses – such as digital fashion house, The Fabricant – are building decentralised platforms that give consumers control over their own designs and output. So, instead of producing physical samples, people can research and develop their own ideas in the metaverse – reducing environmental strain on garment creation in the process. This also puts more power into the hands of consumers, challenging fashion’s hierarchical structure in the process. 

The metaverse has enormous potential to research, design and test environmentally friendly methods of production. We’ll be able to try on clothing in virtual changing rooms, design our own digital samples and discover new community generated looks – all crucial in the attempt to slow down fashion and democratise the creative space once and for all. 

Wellbeing Recharge – Optimised And Ownable Health

Global uncertainty has forced people to tune into their mental, physical and social health more than ever before. New systems of care are emerging in response. The emphasis being on systems that integrate data and individual preferences, designed to empower us to take charge and become more conscious of our own health. 

Translated into the metaverse, digital healthcare has lots of possibilities. Virtual clinics are being set up to combat geographical barriers to healthcare. A specialist can be stationed anywhere in the world, but still be able to view a patient’s scans and tests done at local facilities. While this responds to healthcare’s accessibility, digital twins are paving the way for more holistic and user-centric treatment plans. Q Bio Gemini, for example, uses patient data to create simulations of anatomy. These twins can then be shared with medical professionals, giving them a live, always-on window into a patient’s health. People will also be able to see – and ‘own’ – their own health status, as well as receive more personalised treatment plans. It seems that healthcare in the metaverse could empower people to take charge of their own wellbeing and measure it in the most complete sense.

As we can see, the metaverse is unlikely to remain as a playground for virtual yacht parties and celebrity avatars. The more we inspect slow culture, the more we can see what it will be. That is, a world powered by real humans with real human needs ­– who are not driven by consuming NFTs or eating digital burgers (or at least, not all the time). 

This blog is based on our recent Crowd DNA Amsterdam webinar, which you can read here and watch in full here

Roughly 14 years and five months in the making, finally we've got round to writing our book. How We Work With Culture tells our story - the important stuff and the weird bits and pieces. But why bother? CEO and founder Andy Crysell explains...

First up, an admission. Probably should’ve written this a long time ago. Not now, almost 15 years into the Crowd DNA story.

So why now? Well, better late than never. Also because, as we grow, as we become more global, communicating what we stand for becomes ever more important to get right. We can’t just hope that this will all drift through the ether, like we perhaps could when Crowd DNA was a handful of people sitting around the same table. Now we’re not even sitting in the same timezone.

Prior to creating How We Work With Culture, what’s in here had never all been put down on paper in the one place. It had been talked about in instalments. Shared in various presentations, workshops and company get-togethers. It had existed in the heads of various people (much of it in mine). It often ended up hidden away in the mysterious depths of our Google Drive.

What do we hope to achieve with this? To give our team, particularly new arrivals, a stronger sense of what we’re about. The confidence to dive into the wonderful messiness of working with culture. And if there are people outside of the business who are also interested in what we’re about, that’s great, too.

We hope it will demonstrate that, despite all of the aforementioned messiness, Crowd DNA has craft to it – something we can call… a way. We want to be seen as a unique proposition, and to define and inspire a next generation of cultural strategists. We think How We Work With Culture has a big role to play here, too.

But then in some ways it’s just nice to have the opportunity to tell our story. All of the things we chat about. The stuff we try to make sense of, and somewhat obsess over. The big strategic things, but then also all of the weird bits and pieces that make up our narrative. All of it, in its own way, is important.

With thanks to the entire Crowd DNA team, whose creativity and energy never fails to amaze. Special applause for Chloe Swayne for all of the fabulous design work (and perseverance) that went into creating How We Work With Culture. And to our group managing director, Dr Matilda Andersson, for her contributions here, but more so, for her commitment to Crowd DNA itself.

Andy Crysell, founder and CEO

In the latest issue of Crowd Signals, we step into the world of Wellbeing Recharge and analyse online conversation around Psychedelic Health...

In times when our resilience is tested, we turn to ways to bolster our mental and physical health – we call this shift in focus Wellbeing Recharge. Our Crowd Signals series reports on the trends in Wellbeing Recharge, and focuses on the potent developments in Psychedelic Health. 

The hard stop of the global pandemic gave many of us an opportunity to pause and reconsider the balance in our lives, while notions of collective – including global health – are now being confronted. This connection with ourselves and those around us is now a multi-layered endeavour as we explore spiritualism, tech-enabled optimisation, new-wave ingestibles and alternative healing therapies. 

Our third edition of Crowd Signals is now live and available to download here. This is informed by our regular exploration of unstructured data using our trends platform Crowd Signals, designed to identify real-time cultural change and future opportunities with advanced NLP, AI and machine learning capabilities. 

Using our Crowd Signals Hub we have identified seven trends within this shift to Wellbeing Recharge. This edition of Crowd Signals looks into one of them: Psychedelic Health. The full report features: 

– innovation in health technology with start-ups in micro-dosing

– insight into how knowledge about psychedelics is shared online

– trend analysis of psychedelic use from underground to mainstream

– our emotions tracking tool illustrates the role played by trust in conversations around psychedelics.

So turn on, tune in, but don’t drop out – and read here to open your mind to all the potential. 

Contact us to find out more about the seven trends in the Wellbeing Recharge culture shift, or to talk more about our Crowd Signals platform.