Who wouldn’t want to turn their assets into extra income? People, brands and the environment will all benefit from sharing and there are countless resources waiting to be shared by more people. Millions of people will join the sharing economy in the next few years. Our relationship with our homes and possessions, and ownership in general, is changing.
The sharing economy is also known as collaborative consumption and peer-to-peer rental arrangements. More and more businesses are expanding their business models and they are discovering what they can share and rent out instead of only focusing on selling.
According to Nielsen, 68% of adults globally are willing to share or rent goods for money. A PWC report values the five main sharing economy sectors at $15bn globally. By 2025, its value is estimated to rise to $335bn.
Internet technologies are helping brands seeking to go out and share their resources. Technology is one of the drivers of the sharing economy; another is that we don’t have room for more stuff. People living in cities lack space and there is a growing belief that you don’t have to own goods yourself any longer; that it’s more important to have access to resources. To share or rent instead of buying gives you freedom. You don’t have to do any maintenance work as there is a middleman doing that.
The sharing economy means that we are sharing moments, insights, knowledge, spaces, tasks, media, pets, homes and other things we don’t use or have time for every day.
I recently spoke to Benita Matofska, Chief Sharer at Compare and Share and a global sharing expert. She explained that: “Humans have survived through sharing resources, sharing is nothing new, and it has always helped us to live a better life together.”
Car manufacturers such as Ford, General Motors and BMW have announced an Airbnb-style peer-to-peer rental schemes for new car owners. If young people, the so-called millennials, are not interested in owning a car, the car industry need to respond and try out new business models. Car manufacturers that makes it easier for customers to share cars are also helping those customers to wear out their cars, and as a result to replace them sooner.
According to Compare and Share, in total there are over 7,500 sharing platforms worldwide where you can share resources. Every business needs to review whether it has any hidden treasures it can fully or partly divide between itself and other parties.
The Decluttering Trend
Our constant hoarding is creating a counter-movement that wants us to feel lighter. One of the most famous decluttering experts is Marie Kondo. She became a star in Japan after people started to value what really mattered to them after the devastating tsunami in 2011. In her best selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up she says that if an object doesn’t spark joy you shouldn’t keep it. The book has sold more that 3m copies in over 30 languages and Marie Kondo was voted one of 100 most influential people in the world for 2015 by Time magazine.
Unused items from many homes are filling up the gadget graveyard. We own more than we need. Some people even go to extremes and aim to only own 100 items. Minimalism and freedom go hand in hand and people who are minimalist are aiming to find pleasure in simplicity.
When we share resources it helps us to only use what we need. A future scenario could be that a local street community will only have one tool box to which everyone has access. Another system could be that more people will rent tools locally.
The sharing economy comes with responsibilities and the need for good business ethics. New digital technology makes it easy to share. What’s stopping many from doing so are security issues and the feeling that sharing is not safe.
The media has been quick to point out the weaknesses of the sharing economy and has been featuring some horror stories about people who rented out their homes and it all ended up a total mess. Established home sharing services are better geared up now, but there is still a lack of trust and verification processes which are stopping many from participating.
Many websites and apps use rating and feedback systems. Both the provider and customer rate each other. It certainly helps to have this in place, but for a global sharing system a better verification system is needed.
Trust and security issues have started a debate about common sharing standards. Consumer and sharing activists around the world are now pushing for common standards. These are being explored at the moment.
When more people in all age groups trust the sharing economy, more are going to try it out. Right now the younger generations are more positive. Lack of trust is one of the main barriers to growth.
The Power Of Partnership
In our discussion, Matofska brought up the importance of forming partnerships. A potential collaboration she mentioned was organisations that have free spaces in their buildings; they can join up with space-sharing companies and rent out free space when they are not using it.
The connectivity of social platforms that makes it easy to sign up and start trading is creating new partnerships that are changing the way we live our lives.
Matofska said: “Only 10 percent of all brands are sharing now, the potential of new business models is rising and will continue to grow.”
Consumers want to engage with responsible businesses that are building their brands on sustainable business practice. Communication and transparency are both key if you want to be part of the sharing economy.
To stay relevant for future and current customers all businesses need to look at their assets, physical and human, to see how they can engage in the sharing economy.
All the resources that you have access to can help you be part of the untapped sharing economy. There are billions to be shared, saved and earned.