“Sharing is caring” is one of the phrases that were berated on us as children by parents, teachers and babysitters. It began ever since the first time we refused to share our Mickey Mouse plush doll with our sibling. Usually that resulted in reluctance and taught us that sharing was not always our favorite word. But, now the Millennials you told this to have made the “sharing economy” downright trendy. And, chances are you have already partaken in this trend whether or not you have realized it. From Uber to Airbnb, consumers are foregoing ownership to participate in a new economic model that could soon be our future.
New Economic Horizons
The best way to explain the economy that goes by many names (sharing, collaborative, performance) is this quote Sara Arnold from the Business of Fashion. She states,
“In a performance economy, consumers pay only for the value they extract from a good (the performance) as and when they use it, incentivizing companies to refocus on what benefits the customer actually wants.”
This is Uber and Airbnb to a T. Someone else owns it and you just pay what you use out of it. This is becoming so incredibly popular for people who do not have the means, or do not want the burden of ownership. It’s a symbiotic relationship between owner and user.
In previous decades, ownership was a means of showing success. How big a house you had, how fancy the car you drove and how many items you had in your closet were all statuses of wealth. Now consumers are spending their money on experiences and are turning their noses (slightly) to the accumulation of material items.
With the sharing economy, those can choose if and when they receive the benefits of said items. A new gown for a gala? Rent the Runway will allow you to choose a designer dress you saw in W for a fraction of the price and without it accumulating dust in your closet. Want to spend a month in a new city for the next year? Look into Couch Surfing.
Another benefit is that way people are consuming less goods, then less resources are used to make them. Also, less are being discarded. The impact to the environment is huge. One of the biggest “green” aspects of the sharing economy is ridesharing. It is quite literally turning the world into one giant carpool. Others C2C companies such as PoshMark or Let Go are giving people’s unused items new lives in new homes. By 2030 we will be using two Earths worth of resources, so honestly, anything we can do is crucial.
Our 5 year-old selves would be shocked at our willingness to share our clothing, homes and more in this new economy. We’ve been told our whole lives not to get in cars with strangers and no we literally summon them from our phones. Everything is backwards now and shows now signs of stopping any time soon. As this economic model increases we will start to see how the benefits start to accumulate and how consumers will continue to benefit.