Schumpeter: The business of sharing | The Economist

But the sharing stampede is nevertheless gathering pace. Zipcar has imitators in more than a thousand cities. Every week sees the birth of a business describing itself as the Netflix of this or that. Collective consumption is also disrupting established business models based on built-in obsolescence. The internet may be synonymous with novelty, but by encouraging people to reuse the same objects rather than buy new ones, it may revive the old virtue of building products that last.

Is Social Media Catalyzing an Offline Sharing Economy?

The results of Latitude Research and Shareable Magazine’s The New Sharing Economy studyreleased today indicate that online sharing does indeed seem to encourage people to share offline resources such as cars and bikes, largely because they are learning to trust each other online. And they’re not just sharing to save money – an equal number of people say they share to make the world a better place.

The research was prompted by a recent surge in sharing startups driven by social technology, a generational shift, and new consumption patterns brought on by economic and environmental crisis. Two new books, What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption and The Mesh, argue that this trend is part of a fundamental shift from an ownership to an access economy. They document the rapid growth of the sector and its reach into an increasing number categories of shared use including office space, travel accommodations, textbooks, kids clothes, parking spaces, garden plots, private planes, camera lenses, luxury handbags, boats, household items, and more.

These new services offer citizens use of an asset without the burden of ownership. With a sharing economy comes the promise of cost savings, stronger communities, environmental conservation, broader access to resources, and higher quality products made for sharing. Sharing addresses many problems at once – an appropriate solution for an era of interconnected crises. 

Latitude and Shareable’s The New Sharing Economy is an early if not the first survey of changing attitudes and behaviors driving this trend. There are a number of helpful findings for sharing entrepreneurs including:

  • Sharing online content is a good predictor that someone is likely to share offline too. 78% of participants felt that experiences they’ve had interacting with people online have made them more open to the idea of sharing with strangers. In fact, every study participant who shared content online also shared various things offline. Sharing entrepreneurs are already taking advantage of this by seeding their services in contextually relevant online communities. For instance, online kids clothing exchange thredUP build relationships with prominent mommy bloggers to speed their launch.
  • 75% of participants predicted that their offline sharing will increase in the next 5 years. While fast growing, this new sector has lots of unmet demand. More than half of all participants either shared vehicles casually or expressed interest in doing so. Similarly, 62% of participants either share household items casually or expressed interest in doing so. There’s also high interest in sharing of physical spaces for travel, storage, and work – even with complete strangers.
  • The most popular perceived benefits of sharing (67% each) were “saving money” and being “good for society,” echoing the “me+we” mentality popular amongst Millennials and offering insight on how to brand sharing services. People increasingly expect that saving money needn’t come at the expense of doing good, so gravitate to solutions like sharing that enable them to do both. In addition, two thirds of participants said they were more likely to share their belongings if they could make money from it. Brands should align with this “doing well by doing good” world view.
  • Car sharers share across significantly more categories than non-car sharers – 11 versus 8 categories. Ironically, the very thing that catalyzed consumer culture may be the vehicle into the sharing economy. Carsharing preceded the recent surge in sharing startups, and apparently car sharers are leading the behavior shift into a sharing economy. The finding suggests that once someone tries a sharing service they’re more likely to begin sharing in other areas of their life. With this in mind, sharing enterprises would do well to seek partnerships with carsharing and like services, seek out users of other sharing services as new customers, and begin offering other items to share once established in a category.

These and other key findings are covered more fully in the below report. The survey of over 500 web users was designed to uncover actionable insight to help sharing entrepreneurs grow their social enterprises. Latitude and Shareable will be sharing more about the study in three more posts over the next week. Stay tuned. 

The New Sharing Economy


BARTER REPORT: Idea party helps writer mount a show in an ambulence!

This from Stacey Gottlieb, a writer who attended an Idea Party at Trade School that shifted her plans from cafe art to ambulance pop-up gallery in 10 minutes… and connected her to someone with an ambulance to make it happen!

…“Idea Party” seminar, where students harboring exhibition dreams were granted 10 minutes apiece to share their budding concept and have it vetted by the rest of the room.

Artist and curator Erin Marie Sickler was in charge of the two-hour round-robin and ran the event with remarkable aplomb. She also, upon hearing the story of the story-gone-off-the-rails-hoping-to-make-good-by-exhibiting-its-mural-map—possibly inside a rented U-Haul, alongside artist-made first-aid kits and other resuscitation-related goods—said something like: “I know a guy who knows a guy who’s got this ambulance…” and voila!,Team Member #2 was unwittingly born.

Team Member #2—aka Doctor A.—gets ready to start his shift in the therapist’s chair, in the belly of the ambulette.

Point of fact: the man with the ambulance-van was also an art-welder extraordinaire who, when contacted by Team Member #1 with less than one week to spare, was still wholly game for giving it a go. Under similar circumstances, the vehicle and percolating plan proved bait enough to bring gifted video-artist and graphic designer, Team Member #3, on board. And then, just one day (and one tube of reflective-lettering paint later): doctoral candidate and practicing clinician, Team Member #4, agreed to donate a few hours’ break from her Psych-E.R. rotation for The Cause. In sum: things were chugging along.

And then? Well, then the story proceeds quite well—starting with the decision to scrap all exhibition plans and let the clinic’s operation(s) speak for itself; novel therapies and a probing intake protocol quickly taking shape in its stead.

At the same time, the ambulance-owning art-welder toiled tirelessly to ensure the rusting ride would run; the A/V-guru assembled technologies old and new with which to document aired needs; and Team Member #3, the veritable clinician, fluffed her A-game for the off-the-clock rounds: arriving rarin’ to query the masses about how the day was making them feel. And then it was time.