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The New Sharing Economy

A new way of consumption has taken manufacturers and retailers by surprise

  • Key4Communications

People are increasingly creating and participating in communities to share services and products. We connect online to offer products that we no longer use, to rent items that we only need for a specific period, or to exchange our time and our assets, in addition to sharing information and contents.

In fact, there are more and more platforms that allow us to share services and items, such as Uber and Blablacar, which were at the center of a recent controversy in Spain over possible sanctions on users. These practices were born under difficult circumstances (especially in regard to the labor market), but are now part of a new way of consuming, which is more rational and responsible. Both manufacturers and retailers have to learn how to react to this new context, and the response must go beyond trying to regulate something nearly impossible to control.

Many online platforms offer to share all kinds of goods: Airbnb is used to rent rooms to travelers; Task Rabbit, to search people and volunteering for tasks such as moving or picking someone up from the airport; Baby Plays, to exchange toys, and Pley, to rent LEGO sets.

According to a Nielsen study, 68% of consumers are willing to share their time and assets in exchange for an economic benefit and 66% would use or rent products or services from others. The percentages reach 78% and 81% in Asia Pacific; 73% and 71% in the Middle East and Africa; 70% and 68% in Latin America; and go down to 54% and 44% in Europe, and 52% and 43% in North America.

The economic value of this activity could exceed $3.5 billion in 2014, which would mean a growth of 25%.

The products we are more willing to share are:

- Electronics, 18%.
- Classes and other personal services, 26%.
- Tools, 23%.
- Bicycles, 22%.
- Clothing, 22%.
- Household items, 22%.
- Sports equipment 22%.
- Cars, 21%.

All seems to indicate that this new way of consuming will remain once the economic situation improves, as that is what is happening in the countries that are leaving behind the bad times - consumers are increasingly concerned about sustainability, personal development and solidarity, and less worried about status and consumerism.

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