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Top Crypto Narratives Gained 39% to 1313% in Q1 2024

4.7 | by Lim Yu Qian

Which Crypto Narratives Have the Highest Returns?

Memecoins were by far the most profitable crypto narrative in Q1 2024, having recorded the highest returns of 1312.6% on average across its top tokens. Among these 10 largest memecoins by market capitalization as of the end of the quarter, 3 were new tokens that only launched around March: Brett (BRETT), BOOK OF MEME (BOME) and cat in a dogs world (MEW). BRETT had the highest returns of 7727.6% by end Q1 compared to its launch price, followed by dogwifhat (WIF) which gained 2721.2% quarter-to-date (QTD) after going viral and sparking the current memecoin frenzy. 

Notably, the memecoin narrative was 4.6 times more profitable than the next best performing crypto narrative of RWA, and 33.3 times more profitable than the Layer 2 narrative with the lowest returns in Q1 this year.

The second most profitable crypto narrative RWA saw 285.6% returns in Q1 2024. RWA was briefly the most profitable narrative in early February but was overtaken by the memecoin and AI narratives, until it managed to surpass the AI narrative again in late March. Among the largest RWA tokens, MANTRA (OM) and TokenFi (TOKEN) gained the most at 1074.4% and 419.7% QTD respectively, while XDC Network (XDC) was the only one with a 15.6% decline. 

AI followed closely behind as the only other narrative which recorded 3-digit returns at 222.0% in Q1. All of the large cap AI tokens posted gains, led by AIOZ Network (AIOZ) with 480.2% and Fetch.ai (FET) with 378.3%. Notably, even the lowest gainer OriginTrail (TRAC) returned 74.9% in Q1, indicating that the large cap AI tokens benefited from interest in the narrative as a whole.

DeFi & DePIN Start 2024 With Moderate Gains

The DeFi narrative achieved moderate returns of 98.9% in Q1, after regaining its lead over DePIN in the last few days of the quarter. In particular, DeFi narrative returns saw a boost in late February, on the back of the Uniswap (UNI) fee switch proposal. The most profitable large cap DeFi token in Q1 was by far Ribbon Finance (RBN), which gained 430.8% QTD following the project’s pivot to Aevo and successful token launch. Other large DeFi tokens with strong returns were Jupiter (JUP) at 125.7%, Maker (MKR) at 121.2% and The Graph (GRT) at 111.0% QTD

DePIN initially recorded losses in the first half of Q1, but managed to end the quarter with 81.0% returns. Top performers among large DePIN tokens were Arweave (AR) at 292.5% gains, as well as Livepeer (LPT) at 133.7% and Theta Network (THETA) at 124.5% QTD. Meanwhile, Helium (HNT) underperformed as the only large DePIN token to decline 10.5% in Q1.

Layer 1, Gaming & Layer 2 Lag Behind

The Layer 1 (L1) narrative was relatively less profitable in Q1 2024, posting just 70.0% returns. Although Solana (SOL) was in the spotlight as a popular memecoin chain and gained 91.9% QTD to return to 2021 price levels, the top performing large L1 crypto were in fact Toncoin (TON) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) at 131.2% and 130.5% respectively. In comparison, Bitcoin (BTC) gained 65.1% after reaching new all-time highs, while Ethereum (ETH) posted lower gains of 53.9% QTD despite the US spot Ethereum ETF applications.

The GameFi narrative’s Q1 performance was on par with the L1 narrative, with 64.4% returns. Among GameFi large caps, the top gainers were Echelon Prime (PRIME) at 124.0%, Gala (GALA) at 123.0% and Ronin (RON) at 112.3% QTD. 

Layer 2 (L2) has started the year as the least profitable crypto narrative, with a significantly lower 39.5% gain. Across the large cap L2 coins, established Ethereum L2s underperformed the most: Arbitrum (ARB) had 5.6% returns, Polygon (MATIC) saw 1.2% and Optimism (OP) closed the quarter with a slight decline of 1.2%. On the other hand, Stacks (STX) and Mantle (MNT) recorded relatively strong returns of 142.5% and 95.8% QTD respectively. 

Most Profitable Crypto Narratives

Crypto narratives’ performance in Q1 2024, ranked by the average quarter-to-date price returns of their top 10 tokens:

Rank Crypto Narrative Average Returns
1 Memecoin 1312.58%
2 RWA 285.61%
3 AI 221.95%
4 DeFi 98.86%
5 DePIN 81.00%
6 Layer 1 69.95%
7 GameFi 64.35%
8 Layer 2 39.47%

 

Methodology

The study examined the most popular crypto narratives’ performance from January 1 to March 31, 2024, based on CoinGecko data for the top 10 biggest tokens’ average daily price returns compared to the start of the quarter, or the first day of available price data for tokens that were launched during the quarter.

The representative tokens in each narrative were selected by their market capitalization ranking on the last day of the quarter. Tokens related to more than one narrative were assigned to the narrative they are most closely associated with. For the purposes of this study, crypto narratives that are chain-specific, had a limited number of large market capitalization tokens or had high overlap with other narratives were excluded. 

This study is for illustrative and informational purposes only, and is not financial advice. Always do your own research and be careful when putting your money into any crypto or financial asset.


If you use these insights, we would appreciate a link credit to this article on CoinGecko. A link credit allows us to keep supplying you with data-led content that you may find useful.

Curious to find out more about our previous research studies & statistics? Check out this one we did on the most popular blockchain ecosystems.

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Lim Yu Qian
Lim Yu Qian

Yuqian is a cryptocurrency writer and marketer who specializes in mainstream cryptocurrency insights. She's especially fascinated by the philosophical and socioeconomic aspects of crypto and also goes by the name of Q. She holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences with Honors from the National University of Singapore. Follow the author on Twitter @solosbrqt

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