The share economy is on the rise
Spotify and Netflix have shown how this works: Fewer people are buying DVDs or CDs to put on their shelves at home. The streaming services are spearheading a development that’s going to take hold of even more industries in the future. The share economy is the buzzword for a trend that seeks to conserve resources and strengthen local communities, save costs and enable poorer populations to access specific resources. In the future, access to goods and services will become more important than possessing them.
The triumph of the share economy is based on various fundamental changes in the areas of technology and economy, as well as political and social systems. Economists have always observed that sharing becomes more popular in times of economic uncertainty. For instance, in Greece, at the height of the crisis in 2012, a veritable culture of exchange emerged. In the field of agriculture, the sharing of resources in the form of expensive agricultural machinery has been a well-known practice since the 1950s.
Sharing as the principle of a collaborative society
The green movement has been propagating exchange and sharing as the principle of a collaborative society since the 1960s, but it’s only thanks to digitisation, increased use of social media and permanent availability of mobile devices that the share economy has also become an attractive business model.
According to a recent study by Price Waterhouse Cooper in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Turkey, 44% of the more than 4,000 respondents in these countries have already made use of opportunities provided by the Share Economy. The most popular sectors are “Media and Entertainment” with 28 percent and “Hotels and Accommodation” with 20 percent and “Mobility” with 19 percent, not to mention “Retail and Consumer Goods”. The main users of Share Economy offerings are educated women and men under the age of 40. This generation finds ownership less important as a status symbol than the generations before it. Especially among those under 30, the careful use of resources is an important motivation for sharing.
Protagonists of the Share Economy
Well-known protagonists of the Share Economy are Airbnb, which has been acting as a broker for rental accommodation in homes, apartments and rooms from private individuals to private individuals worldwide. Couchsurfing is also about the provision of private sleeping places, but, in contrast to Airbnb, it is completely free of charge. Carsharing opportunities and co-working spaces have become particularly well established in the big cities. There are also a variety of local offers for sharing resources in the domain of clothing, food and books.
However, although it’s well-intentioned as a concept, it also has its downsides: Experts warn, for example, about dumping wages in the taxi industry, which is under pressure from Uber’s private transport services, or in the hotel industry due to competition from Airbnb services.
There’s a similar development to what has happened in the online auction portals, which are more and more dominated by professional providers.