After conducting this research, one can conclude upon the main research question, which questions how do the shareconomy businesses disrupt existing economies/industries? Apart from this focus, we are also able to answer the other two sub-questions: What are the motives that drive customers to use shareconomy businesses? In addition, eventually what are the opportunities and threats (consequences) of shareconomy? To properly conclude on the questions stated, a small summary of findings will be provided for all of them.
According to the background research, two key words – disrupting economy and consumer motives seemed to be common when searching the web and this derived the research towards taking the focus precisely on these two topics and therefore took into a more detailed consideration.
While having look at the research proposal, more specifically at the literature review written, it has been concluded that customers seeking lower prices has been the top reason for shareconomy likability, which has dominated the choice for all the four evaluated fields, regardless of the age, sex and income of the respondents. Environment-awareness, access as well as rarity-originality have been the following choices of the participants in the accommodation and car-sharing sector. Besides, from the commonly shared features of the average shareconomy consumer, the participants in collaborative consumption get involved driven by practical motives, social, environmental, financial and last but not least, out of curiosity. It has been claimed that “68% of Global Survey Respondents Willing to Share or Rent Personal Items; Two-Thirds Likely to Use Products and Services from Others owners are able to money from underused assets, signal trust.” (Mookhey, 2015) When it comes to threats, one of the worries stated has been the simple reasoning that Uber does not own any taxi license, and Airbnb is not an official hotel. Legislation has been therefore a concern as well as the labour market.
While looking at the communities observed, Tedcrunch contained an abundance of articles on topics such as shareconomy/ collaborative consumption. From Uber to Bla Bla car and Airbnb, the platforms that enable the sharing of goods and services are in contrast broadly discussed. Other community, which has been investigated, is Facebook. In this platform, Uber community has variety of different reviews. Airbnb on the other hand contained many complaints about the business itself. Lastly, freelancer.com community on appeared to be the most active one.
One of the most informative sections of our research has been Netnography. The observed conversation on the topic of netnography gave us insight into people’s perception of this new form of businesses and their fears and dreams about the future. We found out that many people are concerned about the future implications of shareconomy-based businesses and how they would change the world we live in. Nevertheless, many believed that even though some harm might come of this shift in the short term, in the long run disrupted industries will reach an equilibrium and only the truly superior model will succeed. Many contributors in the discussions, who believe that disruption is a cause for innovation in stagnant economies, further backed this up. Their main point focused on the fact that stirring up the water will ultimately make everyone better off.
It was also interesting to see how different communities tackled the topic of shareconomy. While more discussion-orientated subreddits had a lot of extreme views and some heated arguments, others were more down to earth and examined the evidence to provide a common ground for both optimistic and pessimistic views. This is also highly correlated with the amount of personal opinion comments posted in each of the communities.
After careful analysis of the gathered data we were able to categorise it into 11 categories, each representing a different mind-set. Grouped together we can see a pattern emerge with two polar sides: pessimists who are concerned about the deregulation of industries and the lack of centralisation and optimists who believe that the economy is best left alone and that bad services and products naturally die out due to the consumer’s buying power. These are by far the most prevalent opinions observed in the netnography research with just a minute part of participants taking a more balanced stance.
When it comes to Social network analysis, it has been concluded that the scraped and visualised data endorses the findings of the trend analysis. The main geographical location similarly to the Google trend analysis illustrated earlier in the document has been identified. Leading to that, Germany and the USA are the locations where the majorities of searches were identified. Additionally, due to many recent searches within our chosen key words, we have concluded that shareconomy can be labelled as a trend. By investigating all of the seven graphs illustrated in Data Scraping and Visualisation section, a profile of the possible user has been created: adventurous, trips-lover backpacker and words similar to curiosity. This possibly answers one of the sub-questions created, more precisely the one that asks for the motives behind the usage of shareconomy.
Having concluded our research and analysis, we set out to answer our research questions with the newly available information. We decided to start with our 2 sub questions leading to the main research question at hand.
What are the motives that drive customers to use shareconomy-based businesses?
Throughout our research, we found that consumers are driven towards shareconomy-based businesses by a set of factors, which they find important. The optimal use of resources is a common theme when it comes to the benefits of these types of business. Furthermore, the ease of access seems to be quite important. Ideologically most people who are drawn towards shareconomy-based businesses truly believe that there is a need for them and that those types of businesses were born out of a necessity. Many people base their motivation on personal experiences and motives, and have trust in a self-regulatory system that will ultimately adjust to customer’s preferences.
What are the opportunities and threats (consequences) of shareconomy?
On the other hand, our research into opportunities and threats facing shareconomy-based businesses shows that many people are concerned about the lack of adequate legislature and believe that these businesses should not be fully ungoverned. In some extreme cases, people believe that the lack of legislation will be perceived as an opportunity for these businesses to circumvent many social and economic factors with the soul goal of profit. Nevertheless, others consider deregulation to be an essential part of disruption. In its essence the main people believe that the main treat of shareconomy-based businesses is the lack of control, while the main opportunity hides in the potential for innovation and the possible optimal utilisation of resources in a social and connected way.
This brings us to our main research question, namely how do shareconomy-based businesses disrupt existing economies. Based on our research we can conclude that these businesses bring an innovative and easy to use solution to an existing industry, while benefiting from the lack of governmental control, thus creating increased consumption and sometimes-uneven competition. This creates a chain reaction that normally leads to either stronger control over the industry or a need for innovation in stagnant businesses. Another disruption is happening bellow corporate level, where labour shifts dramatically. While in some cases workers either stay in the old industry or move to the new one, there are cases in which a disruption leads decreased demand for a specific skill and leads to unemployment. While many believe that this is one of the main negatives of shareconomy-based businesses, some argue that this is just one of the steps of progress and that while people might lose their jobs now, everyone will be better off in the long-run. We can see that this is a prevailing opinion through our netnography research where more than 82% of discussions on innovation through disruption were in reference our main research question. Furthermore, many countered concerns with additional information about shareconomy-based businesses, which showed how they tend to self-regulate under public pressure. For better or for worse, shareconomy businesses are here to stay and in order for them to positively influence industries and society, we as consumers need to cast our vote, with our opinions, buying power and voice.
Throughout our research, we encountered many different points of view, some pessimistic, some concerned and other optimistic. We believe that the best way to handle the issue is through mediation. Some concerns have solid grounds, and some people are blindly optimistic basing their opinions purely on personal experiences, neglecting certain aspects of this complex situation. Nevertheless, some pessimists tend to have overprotective views of existing businesses that have shown to slow down progress historically. We believe that with current technologies and the level of connectivity and information, market economies can truly exist with less regulation and more decentralisation. However as we also acknowledge that a businesses’ main purpose is revenue generation we believe that some regulation needs to be in place. Our recommendation is for shareconomy businesses to be allowed to disrupt more and more industries. However, the government has to act in a timely manner and work with the public and businesses to create adequate legislature, which truly protects the interests of citizens while allowing for innovation and progress to take place.