Why the Sharing Economy Is Here to Stay and What the Implications Will Be for Marketing

Now more than ever it is increasingly common for people to connect collectively and directly when it comes to consumption, education, and travel, among many other options. Currently, the online sharing economy is a prime example that illustrates the value that the web provides to consumers.

But, what is “sharing economy”? Well, this economic model is characterized as a peer-to-peer based activity. Individuals and companies acquire, provide, or share access to services or products that are often facilitated by a community-based online platform. This type of business is also referred to as collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, or peer economy. Here are some examples:

  • Airbnb: An online marketplace that lets people rent out their properties or spare rooms to guests.
  • DogVacay: Dog owners can leave their dogs with a host who will take care of them.
  • Turo: Described as the world’s largest car-sharing marketplace.
  • TaskRabbit: Marketplace for hiring people to do various tasks (handyman, office help, etc.).
  • Liquid: Specializes in bike rental from a neighbor through a sharing startup.

These are just some of the pioneering businesses using this model, but the list grows longer and longer each year. The most important thing to consider is what collaborative consumption represents for the contemporary economy, an economy that is the most current example of the value that the web provides to consumers.

When it comes to marketing, the American Marketing Association speculates the reach the sharing economy has, stating, “The sharing economy has exploded and is altering the way we travel, where we stay, and what we wear, which has important implications for marketing. The sharing economy challenges traditional views regarding the nature and role of marketing institutions, processes, and value creation.”

So, how does the ‘‘peer economy’’ impact the way that we apply existing marketing schemes, develop new ones, or engage in the practice of marketing?  Some of the sectors that resent the changes enacted by this model the most include hoteliers, restauranteurs, and bar owners.

On one hand, the marketing executives in the hospitality and catering sectors believe their industries face a significant challenge. But, on the other hand, some industries look at these areas in the sharing economy as an opportunity that can be exploited.

Either way, ​​marketing can learn from and take advantage of the transition between traditional businesses and the sharing trend. In regards to this transition, it is important to take into account some of the lessons that the Marketing Insider Group offers:

  • Co-creation: Working in collaboration with customers can bring in fresh perspectives and creative ideas. Co-creation is a powerful brand tool that takes its role in collaborative consumption. For example, when your audience becomes a partner who collaborates in your brand experience, they are more likely to buy your products or use your services.
  • Micro Target Communities: The sharing economy is hyper-local ­­­— it builds business through community awareness. Larger companies often don’t spend time on the type of community engagement that is the hallmark of sharing economy brands. Take the time to seed your brand story in your neighborhood and develop brand-building campaigns in targeted communities. The sharing economy is a huge threat to many standard businesses today. But, it also presents a tremendous opportunity for leaders and visionary companies who are ready to build new innovative business models that lean into this new economy. 
  • Integrate Social: Social integration is becoming the most important element of brand discovery and engagement. Building an engaged network of brand advocates takes work. Make every brand experience a social one where customers can engage, share, and communicate.

There is no doubt that the sharing economy is here to stay. So, it is the task of marketers to be aware of these new economic models that entail new ways of accessing products and services, which also means they will require unique forms of marketing.