Happy Chinese New Year!
This is the Year of the Dog, which is my Chinese zodiac sign so I thought I'd reissue a past new year's blog post that is still relevant. Hey, it's my year so I can do what I want! Enjoy.
I start this new year with a confession rather than a resolution. My confession is that I am not really a car person. Whereas I do enjoy and appreciate personal automobiles for their transport benefit, convenient access and at times the style they exude, I’m not as emotionally invested in cars as I am in clothing. I state this because with an ever expanding sharing economy where one can rent to use other people’s homes, clothes, cars, etc. instead of owning any of these things, this distinction becomes very important. Sharing as a way of accessing things rather than outright purchasing is so popular there are real long term social and economic implications and of course I have an opinion on it. So here are my theories regarding the impact of the sharing economy and my advice for 2018 is you go find yourself a little bit of happiness and share it … or not!
5. The idea of sharing will expand to jobs, pets, furniture and more.
Actually the concept of job sharing already exists. In fact, in a past position my supervisors were two working mothers who shared a position by each coming in three days a week and performing the same duties. However, with contract employment becoming more prevalent, job sharing may take on an even newer look with far fewer constraints. Sharing furniture and other high investment durables also makes sense especially for those frequent home redecorators.
4. Users of the sharing economy will engage in alignment with their values.
I began this article by stating that I am not a big car aficionado. That is my personal value. So I frequently engage in transportation sharing services as a result. However, I am not too keen on sharing my home or my clothes. However, I know others have no problem with sharing their homes and clothes or companies like Airbnb and Gwynnie Bee would not be as popular as they are. Going forward people will cluster into groups of various levels of sharing. You will have the minimalists who own nothing or very little and rent or share everything. Middle of the road, mixed groups will own most products they use in certain product categories and rent or share in other categories. Lastly those who are so protective over things, they prefer to own everything, will share nothing or very little and with exclusivity.
3. What you will share will have great meaning.
With this new sharing economy, for those like me, who may not be into cars, the sharing services represents a new cap in our purchase funnel the way used cars was a cap for those who feel it is financially imprudent to buy a new car. Furthermore, for different reasons, this preference might change based on life stage or living conditions. For example, city dwellers with lots of transportation options, will be more likely to max out their auto brand relationship at car sharing whereas married couples with kids in the suburbs or more rural areas, without the same infrastructure support, will have far less access to the transportation sharing economy. As a consequence, it will mean a lot if a suburban or rural consumer insists on car sharing or a city dweller insists on full car ownership.
2. Who you share with will also have great meaning.
The current structure of today’s sharing marketplace, most companies try to force a democratic playing field. For example, most ride sharing companies, such as Uber and Lyft, one cannot exclusively request a certain driver every time. Drivers are assigned according to proximity to the passenger request. Also Airbnb tries to prevent people from discriminating against minority or any other potential renters. However, that is just the way this marketplace is beginning. As consumers consider what they will share and what they won’t, there will be economic benefits for them to share some items, but still desire control by being exclusive as to who they share with. Thus, tribalism within sharing will emerge. Hopefully this will not endorse or reinforce prejudice and discrimination by prohibiting certain exclusion criteria, but of course it is hard to regulate morality.
1. What you then choose to own and not share will have the greatest meaning.
More than what you choose to share, what you choose to exclusively own when you could share for a financial benefit, will indicate a new level of consumer loyalty and relationship building. Before the sharing economy, one had no other option but to buy what they need. But with the proliferation of sharing options and its economic benefits, ownership will become less prevalent.
For example some women just want access to nice clothes simply to look well dressed at work or at parties, etc. Other women want a unique fashion experience in which their attire is a unique and singular form of self-expression. They might share these items within intimate relationships but would no sooner share their fashion finds with random strangers anymore than they would share their social security number. This marks a different brand relationship potential.