"Sharing isn't new. Giving someone a ride, having a guest in your spare room, running errands for someone, participating in a supper club -- these are not revolutionary concepts. What is new, in the "sharing economy," is that you are not helping a friend for free; you are providing these services to a stranger for money." - Arun Sundararajan
The sharing economy (i.e. sharing of goods and services amongst users) is a growing industry fundamentally based on mutual trust, customer reviews and reputation. Although this phenomenon only became popular recently, the industry is already worth over $15 billion and is expected to grow to $335 billion by 2025 (Marketline, 2017). From spare rooms to rides around town, companies in industries as diverse as technology, hospitality, education and transport have adopted this approach as part of their business models. The sharing economy has essentially transformed certain traditional production and consumption relationships in ways that have improved lives, lowered environmental impacts and costs of living. The few famous and successful companies of today include Airbnb, Uber, BlaBlaCar and EatWith.
So who exactly is participating in the sharing economy?
Who are these people who are willing to share material things, free time and skills with others for the love of money?
If you haven't already guessed it - the generation of 20 to 30-year-olds are in fact the most active users. This is simply because they are the biggest group of consumers who possess huge aspirations but lack the financial abilities to reach them. Research has shown that this is true for up to 28% of the European Union's population- that's almost 1 out of 3 Europeans you know.
Fortunately, the sharing economy has allowed people who have the given goods to share with those who want to use them. Aside from promoting the efficient use of resources, the environment is cared for and social interactions flourish amongst those who may never cross paths under other circumstances. That being said, mutual trust, immaterial and typically overlooked, is perceived as the paramount element necessary for the sharing economy to function and develop properly.
Why is it that we feel comfortable sitting in a stranger's car every time we order an Uber? In fact- we usually have no idea who the driver is until he arrives! The truth is, we trust Uber (the brand) to ensure that our safety is taken care of and the credibility of the drivers are audited. The system of stars awarded and other users' positive comments becomes the guarantor of reliability. With increasing legal regulations set in place to manage the sharing economy's expanding activities, it will definitely continue to grow and take new areas of the economy.
Now this gets us thinking...
Why not share umbrellas too?