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The Sharing Economy: Could It Be the Next Big Thing?



Back in the days when we all knew our neighbors, borrowing from them was a common occurrence. Lawn mowers, hand tools, and that insane “cup of sugar” that appeared on nearly every TV show in the 50′s and 60′s.

Jump forward to the 90′s and borrowing wasn’t so hot anymore. Much of this was due to the change in the way we live and socialize. People who knew their neighbors well enough to ask a favor became the minority. We also became more possessive. If we wanted it, we bought it. If our friends had it, we bought it. Even if we were only going to use it once, we bought it.

Fast forward to today and you’ll find people thinking twice before they invest in big ticket items and pricey luxuries. Why spend $500 on camping gear when you might not even like camping? And if making home-made ice cream turns out to be more trouble than its worth, that expensive, single-use appliance is going to sit in the closet or end up at Goodwill.

Enter The Sharing Economy. Ad agency Campbell Mithun commissioned a study on the topic and here’s what they found out.

60 percent of overall respondents find the concept of sharing appealing, but a full 71 percent of those who have used shareable products expect to continue.

The study found that GenXers were more interested in sharing than Millennials, but that’s likely due to circumstance. More GenXers have families, mortgages and a budget, which makes sharing appealing. It won’t be long, though, until those Millennials have a family of their own and that’s why Campbell Mithun says sharing could be the next big trend.

The benefits to sharing are obvious, but here’s a pretty, colorful chart to explain them anyway.

Their is a downside, which includes objects being lost or stolen, damage to items and privacy issues. All of that falls under the heading of trust.

Then there are the logistical issues. Netflix and your local library have sharing all figured out. Sites like NeighborhoodGoods act as the go between, pairing up borrowers and lenders. There’s even Rent the Runway, a site that lets you borrow couture dresses and luxury accessories for that special event. It’s doable. That’s been proven.

The Sharing Economy is picking up steam, no doubt, but will it become the next big trend since the daily deal? Campbell Mithun says yes, because in addition to the rational benefits, there are emotional benefits, too. Through sharing, people feel more connected to their community, they feel like they’re helping others and they feel smarter. Those are all, very powerful motivators.

Is sharing a concept that would work for your business? Would you be willing to rent items instead of sell them outright? And what do you think it will take for this idea to become the next big thing?