What is the sharing economy?
The sharing economy is not something new; the first signs of this trend where noticed in the second half of the 2000’s. Companies that arrived along with this trend already grew to be some of the largest and successful companies in the world. Netflix, Spotify, Uber and Airbnb are some well-known brands in the sharing economy which most of us use on a daily basis. But what actually is the sharing economy and what will it look like in the future?
What a day in the shared economy looks like…
The sharing economy is constantly evolving and can be defined as an economic system in which assets and services are shared between individuals, often facilitated through community-backed platforms. This enables the companies behind these platforms to optimize the utilization of idle assets. To give you an example: A café that is normally closed during the day serves as a coworking space during that time. Thus, members can easily reserve a work spot through their smartphone and pay per minute - often at tempting prices. Often at tempting prices. The efficient use of assets results in financial benefits which are shared with members of the community.
How did it originate?
In a world where we live with almost 8 billion people and in which we share limited resources, it is important to come with innovative solutions to ensure efficient use of these resources. If not done properly, depletion of these reserves is inevitable. In the meantime, continuously advancing technologies are significantly contributing to the rapid movement of goods and services. In other words, supply is low while demand is increasing.
Creative solutions were required to anticipate to this problem which came to light in the beginning of the 21st century when consumer behavior changed significantly. The social change of people preferring access to ownership stirred by advances in technology led to a rebirth of cooperation between humans and the rise of the sharing economy. Something that should not come as a surprise, since humans are social beings that have always relied on cooperation to survive, but which has not been properly remembered in the past century.
What drives the sharing economy?
We are all creators of the sharing economy and it only works, because contributors are aware of the following elements:
For a fair exchange to take place, a supplier should be able to trust the consumer he is going to pay and the consumer should be able to trust the supplier he is going to deliver.
Access over ownership
The sharing economy is not about owning it; it’s about having access to it. People should be aware of the benefits of sharing and collaborating.
Reduced waste of value
Sharing resources significantly stimulates efficient use of resources and reduces the amount of ‘wasted value’. Initiatives like Car2Go offer a solution where cars are utilized to their full potential.
Transparency & openness
This refers to new opportunities created by sharing information to connect goods or service providers with consumers.
Coliving and the sharing economy
Coliving is a new way of living in metropole cities that is becoming increasingly popular amongst 20-35-year-olds. It reflects a good view of the possibilities of collaboration in communities and the benefits that arrive from it. By sharing facilities and services like utilities, laundries and car spots, it provides a more resource efficient and financially favorable way of living. Moreover, living in a community allows people to have new experiences with new people, and gives a sense of belonging. Coliving, a descendant of the sharing economy, provides a solution to living in cities where housing is costly and urban isolation is common - through collaboration.
Where is the sharing economy headed?
The sharing economy is currently one of the fastest growing business trends in history. There is still some skepticism; particularly from older generations, where owning ‘things’ was a mark of status. Newer generations like Millennials and Gen Z do not share this skepticism because they live more in the moment and value new experiences. They want to be free in making life decisions with limited obligations and these generations grew up in the digital era and are open towards new technologies. Innovations are still advancing at rapid pace, creating even more opportunities for the sharing economy to grow and increase its popularity globally.
One thing is for sure, the sharing economy is not just a fading trend, it is here to stay. We are excited to see how the sharing economy will evolve in the coming years!