Nowadays, the increased networking of society creates a great basis for the shared use of resources. This influences the economy in general: the traditional business model seems to be shifting to a new trend called shareconomy (sharing economy) also known as collaborative consumption. It is a hybrid market model, which relates to peer-to-peer based sharing of access to resources, services and goods, which is usually organized and managed through online community services. Shareconomy has many different forms, which include usage of information technology to give individuals, corporations or government the information that allows optimization of resources (Hamari, Sjoklint, & Ukkonen, 2015). In other words, collaborative consumption is a set of practices and models that, through technology and community, allow individuals and companies to share access to products, services and experiences (Fraunhofer, 2014). The most well known examples of this trend include such businesses as Airbnb, Blablacar, Couchsurfing, Uber, Freelancing, etc.
This trend is relatively recent – it started with eBay (launched in 1995) which could be considered as a first example of this trend as it changed the way in which people gain access to goods and circulate them in the market. As the technologies were advancing fast, it influenced the rapid movement of goods and services and market had to find a way to keep up with it (Belyh, 2015). Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers first introduced the concept of shared social and economic activity in 2010 in their book: “What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption” (Botsman & Rogers, 2010). The authors suggested that this ‘social revolution’ requires the usage of ‘shared and open resources’ across different platforms to create value which benefits the society. According to Botsman, this kind of economy model relies highly on trust as without it the collaboration would not develop and sharing economy would fail (Botsman & Rogers, 2010). This concept became widely recognized in 2011 when TIME magazine regarded it as one of the “Ten Ideas That Will Change the World” (Belyh, 2015).
Business would not adopt shareconomy, if there were no forces driving them towards making the change. There are several main drivers that highly influence the fast development and adoption of shareconomy. Firstly, the rapid population growth influences the demand for goods/services to increase, which creates a need to find alternative ways of addressing the growing demand for the resources. Also there is an extensive spread of poverty and various crises taking place, which result in increased unemployment as well as inequality in income and purchasing power of consumers. Therefore, to adjust there is a need for substitute business models. In addition to that, the constant rise of information technologies and the huge popularity of social media is also a major driving force of sharing economy, which makes it easy for people to communicate and “exchange” resources in global terms. Finally, the rapid growth of shareconomy participants also accelerates the further development of the trend as thousands of organizations and companies on a global scale are getting a piece of the shareconomy action, realizing large profits and revenues (Belyh, 2015).
This research will focus on the shareconomy trend and the main research question is: How do the shareconomy businesses disrupt existing economies/industries? Apart from this focus, a few sub-questions will also be included in the research such as: What are the motives that drive customers to use shareconomy businesses? What are the opportunities and threats (consequences) of shareconomy? In order to analyze and get deeper into the general perception of the shareconomy trend by the public this research paper will use several online communities, such as Reddit and social platforms, such as Instagram.
While some corporations or companies are already recognizing the importance of including shareconomy in their business some classical businesses are still trying to provide everything themselves and miss out on the larger opportunity provided by shareconomy. Therefore, this research is primarily relevant to the economies/industries/businesses that have not yet encountered or applied the collaborative consumption trend. The main aim is to investigate why consumers join the shareconomy trend and how is it might disrupt industries. While investigating that this research also intends to provide relevant the recommendations for the companies, economies or industries that have not encountered shareconomy yet. This seems to be significant as noticing the fast pace that this trend is entering different markets and how many consumers already joined it would be useful for other companies to be prepared and know what they are or will be dealing with.
Research Questions/ Sub-Questions
Main research question: How does the shareconomy businesses disrupt existing economies/industries?
Sub-question 1: What are the motives that drive customers to use shareconomy businesses?
Sub-question 2: What are the opportunities and threats (consequences) of shareconomy?
Keywords: shareconomy, collaborative consumption, disruption, customers, share, peer-to-peer