– Kate G
There’s a new trend on the rise that according to Time Magazine could be one of the 10 ideas that will change the world. It’s called Collaborative Consumption. Collaborative Consumption describes the rapid explosion in traditional sharing, bartering, lending, trading, renting, gifting, and swapping reinvented through network technologies on a scale and in ways was never possible before. In an article released on March 17th, Time Magazine proposed that “someday we’ll look back on the 20th century and wonder why we owned so much stuff.” And that shift to a new way of thinking about consumption is happening right now. It began with Napster. The digitalization of music and the ability to share it made owning CDs superfluous. Then Napsterization spread to nearly all other media. Its become popular in recent times with the rise of big businesses like Netflix, whose more than 20 million subscribers pay a fee to essentially share DVDs, or Zipcar, which gives more than 500,000 members the chance to share cars part-time.
Why I’m Curious
Collaborative Consumption is disrupting outdated modes of business and reinventing not just what we consume but how we consume. It signals the move from ownership to experience and practicality based consumption behavior. Now, with companies like snapgoods, I can rent the latest camera from someone in my neighborhood for the fraction of the cost of purchasing it. The thrill of ownership is replaced by the thrill of peer-to-peer exchange: It’s Sustainable. It’s economical. It’s Social. And it re-establishes a sense of trust, because without trust, it fails. As Time commented: “In an era when families are scattered and we may not know the people down the street, sharing things —even with strangers we’ve just met online — allows us to make meaningful connections. Peer-to-peer sharing “involves the re-emergence of community,” says Rachel Botsman, co-author of What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption. “This works because people can trust each other.”
There will of course always be a want for whats new, there will always be the early adopters, but if this trend catches on with a large enough segment of the population, then how will it impact our business of driving traditional product sales? To stay ahead, will companies need to go beyond traditional CSR, and embrace the trend towards a brand “we” mentality, by helping to foster sustainable consumption habits and peer sharing communities?