Around the world, a new wave of peer-to-peer, access-driven businesses is creating a new environment. Whether lending goods, renting homes, or sharing rides, customers are intrigued and craving for this new sharing-based economy. Sharing economy is achieved when an individual gain profit by sharing his or her underused assets with others. Examples include Airbnb where house owner can rent out his place while he is on vacation, or RelayRides where you can rent someone else’s car when he or she is not using it.
A survey conducted by PwC shows that only about 44% of the US adult population is familiar with the concept of sharing economy, while the actual participation is relatively small (See chart below) (https://www.pwc.com/us/en/technology/publications/assets/pwc-consumer-intelligence-series-the-sharing-economy.pdf).
Regardless of the minimal participation, the majority of the population does understand its potential benefits. Sharing economy not only brings economic advantages (more affordable prices), but also social benefit (personal interaction is stronger, and trust plays a critical role), as well as environmental benefits (houses and goods are used more efficiently. It is clear that sharing economy will play an important role in our future. In the PwC survey, 57% believes that “access is the new ownership”.
Concerns are raised in terms of this newly formed economy. While some people believe that sharing economy experience is not consistent, or that it lacks standardized regulations, the biggest criticism goes to the vulnerability from trusting strangers in using your assets. 69% agrees that they will not trust sharing economy companies until they are recommended by someone they trust.
Nevertheless, we can without doubt anticipate the continuous growth of sharing economy and greater impact it will bring to our lives.