Hands up if you’ve used uber, Airbnb, GoGet or GumTree in the last month?
Chances are, majority of you have, without knowing that you’re part of an exploding industry which is rapidly changing the way that consumers interact with brands/companies.
The term ‘Collaborative Economy’ started to emerge around 2010, and although a relatively young concept, it’s certainly making up for lost time. To be completely honest, I only heard the term for the first time yesterday at the ADMA Global Forum during a keynote by Rachel Botsman, even though I’ve been actively part of it for the last few years!
The concept of sharing services and skills isn’t a new one. Rewind a couple of centuries, and this was the way of the world. Add technology into the mix along with social media and people are becoming more and more resourceful, making the most of the skills or assets they own and sharing them in a global landscape. It is increasingly bringing the focus to access, rather than ownership of things – a natural evolution in a world that is battling with the constant struggle between materialism and minimalism.
As “trust shifts from institutions to individuals”, it is interesting to see how social barriers are being broken down. With the rise of collaborative services, it is fascinating to see how people are no longer afraid of the concept of interacting with strangers. In fact, it seems to be a part of the appeal.
As the global population continues to grow, it is almost comforting to see yourself as a global citizen who can have a life filled with unique experiences – want to stay in a treehouse in New Zealand, Airbnb has you covered. Want to share a lift on your way to the airport? UberPool is launching to tackle the issues of increasing traffic and pollution. Want all the freedom of driving a car when you need it, without the hassle of actually owning one? GoGet is at your service. Want some inexpensive furniture? GumTree or Ebay will have unique pieces that you can find, minus the effort of going to a garage sale!
The Collaborative Economy has an overwhelmingly positive effect on users’ real life behaviour as it is a largely reputation based culture. Regardless of whether you are providing a service or using that service, the majority are based on a ratings or review system which holds all parties accountable. If you leave a virtual trail of negative behaviour, then it will follow you around and your access will be limited in the future.
I love the idea of kindness or high quality service being rewarded in real time, it is comforting to know that in this economy, the nice guy doesn’t finish last! As Botsman said, “Reputation is becoming a currency that will be more powerful than our credit history in the 21st century”.
It also raises the standard for traditional providers by challenging existing monopolies and ensuring that big businesses stay on their toes! It isn’t about taking down the big guys, it’s about creating better experiences for consumers and doing things in new, more effective or efficient ways.
The Collaborative Economy is definitely not without its hurdles or negatives, but ultimately it is changing the world as we know it!