Feb 08

National study quantifies reality of the “Sharing Economy” movement

Posted by: Kristine Olson  
Tagged in: News Releases

Consumers report “weirdest items shared”: socks (36%), toothbrush (19%), underwear (15%), mate (8%)

MINNEAPOLIS – The Sharing Economy movement has gone mainstream.  According to a national consumer study, not only did a 60 percent of overall respondents find the concept of sharing appealing, but a full 71 percent of those who have used shareable products expect to continue.

The data confirms both the health of the trend and the need for marketers to acknowledge related shifts in the marketing landscape.  Minneapolis ad agency Campbell Mithun commissioned the study and partnered with Carbonview Research to quantify consumer response to the sharing concept nationwide.

“This trend is no longer emerging, it’s here,” says Lynn Franz, Campbell Mithun’s director of strategic planning. “And the marketplace should accommodate a consumer wanting nimble access to things instead of outright ownership of them. That drastically changes the go-to-market strategy.” 

The national quantitative survey gathered opinions from nearly 400 consumers about the Sharing Economy.  Also called collaborative consumption, the trend is characterized by the sharing of expertise, goods and services in new and innovative ways, often powered by the social web.

The agency hosted a live-streamed interactive conversation to discuss the survey results with marketers on Wednesday, Feb 8, from 1-2 pm (CT).  Event details:  www.cmithun.com/talkinar

“Sharing appeal” by generation:  GenX surprise

In a measure of general appeal, opinions of GenXers and Millennials aligned: 62 percent of both groups found sharing appealing.  But surprisingly, more GenXers than Millennials found the concept “very appealing” (31 vs 24 percent) – a statistically significant difference.

“GenXers are in the thick of the giving years,” said Franz.  “With obligations to kids and mortgages, this stretched, practical group is saying the concept aligns with their needs.”

Boomers, as expected, had the fewest respondents finding the concept “appealing” (53 percent) or “very appealing” (15 percent).

Perceived “benefits” of sharing: a personalized value

Respondents ranked lists of both rational and emotional benefits of participating in the Sharing Economy.  No surprise: “saving money” topped the rational benefits list. But this show-me-the-money response becomes significant when considered alongside the top reported emotional benefit: “generosity to myself and others.”

“Consumers want to own less but gain more,” Franz continued. “The perceived rational benefits all center on reduction and practicality, but the emotional ones deliver affirmation and belonging. So the marketer’s brand must deliver value with meaning, which becomes personal depending on the consumer.”

Barriers to sharing:  it’s all about Trust

Issues of trust shaped two thirds (67 percent) of consumers’ perceived fears about participating in the sharing economy.  Biggest barrier: concern that a lent item would be lost/stolen (30 percent), followed by worries about trusting the network (23 percent) and privacy concerns (14 percent).

Fears also addressed issues of value and quality, articulated as concerns about “sharing not being worth the effort” (12 percent), “goods/services being of poor quality” (12 percent) and “other factors” (9 percent).

New success metrics for marketers

The new sharing dynamic requires measurement tools that define ROI beyond typical bottom-line and market-share metrics.  To help marketers explore the new performance factors, Campbell Mithun developed a set of “Sharing Economy Brand Success Metrics” considering the interactivity of the following factors:  brand associations, network affiliations and user experience. A downloadable version of the metrics chart is available on www.cmithun.com/talkinar after 2 pm CT on Wednesday, Feb 8.

“Success in the sharing economy prioritizes the health and trust of the sharing network,” said Franz. “When a brand offers real value to a consumer committed to the notion of sharing, that consumer will share not only his or her influence and endorsement, but a committed stake in seeing that brand succeed.”

About the national sharing economy study

Carbonview Research conducted the survey for Campbell Mithun in January 2012 via online interviews with a sample size of 383 participants nationwide. 

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