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Busy Rascals

With some 95% of global music downloads now unauthorised, we explore here the scale of dark consumerism and its very real financial impacts.

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There is an increasing tendency on the part of consumers to take things from shelves, both real and virtual, without paying for them and to assume that many of them should actually be free in the first place. At The Future Foundation, we have termed this sliding scale of fraud and felony as the rise of the Busy Rascals consumer.  

So what is driving the Busy Rascals phenomenon? Well, it is shaped by the collision of a perfect storm of driving factors. These include the ingrained mistrust of companies leading many consumers to feel morally entitled to outmanoeuvre them when the chance arises; the explosion in the availability of free or virtually free entertainment content revolutionising consumers’ assumptions around pricing and definitions of what they should pay for; a modern culture of online solidarity accustoming citizens to sharing everything online; and the growing argument that the internet and all its content are essentially public goods that should be available to everyone and represent our right to freedom of information. Finally, there is a widespread appreciation that it has proved difficult to catch and prosecute anyone for online piracy to date.

A few headline figures
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The implications of the Busy Rascals trend are far-reaching and extensive. There is firstly a darker dimension at play here. Is it leading to a generalised willingness on the part of consumers to flirt with the dark side and with more serious fraudulent activities? Is our definition of what constitutes ‘theft’ blurring? There has certainly been a significant rise in the size of perpetrated fraud in the UK, across sectors from financial services to insurance, retail and the public sector. Will damaged revenues in the entertainment industry destroy its ability to invest in new talent or take artistic risks, instead giving rise to a nostalgic malaise of never-ending repeats, remakes, sequels and more widely a homogenisation of culture?

And finally, what are the opportunities for companies to avoid falling victim to the Busy Rascals phenomenon and to instead transform piracy and fraud into viable and valuable commercial opportunities?


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About Future Foundation

The Future Foundation helps companies to make better decisions. Decisions which ultimately drive shareholder value.

We view the world through a consumer lens and enable our clients to plan the future with their customers at the epicentre.

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