How Consumers almost have Unlimited Power in the Sharing Economy

Lund – It is great that nowadays everything and everyone can be rated. But, there also is a seam side to this: the customer almost gets unlimited power. In the peer-to-peer economies, service-providers for companies such as Uber, a taxi alternative, and Airbnb, a hotel alternative, are scared to death to make the slightest mistake. This article describes the journey of consumer power through the rise of the internet and web 2.0and implications of this power in the sharing economies.

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How to Survive and Win in the Collaborative Economy?

Imagine you are going on a business trip and you can get everything you need without buying it from any company. For transportation you don not use a taxi but you make use of the app Lyft, which enables you to use another person’s car. You stay at someone else’s apartment using AirBnb and for dinner you enjoy a home cooked meal from someone’s home kitchen. You pay all this by borrowing money from the crowd using peer lending websites. This scenario is possible in today’s world and is part of a big transformation, the beginning of the collaborative economy. 

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The Peer-to-Peer Sharing Economy and Those Service Elements

Ten years ago, Lusch and Vergo wrote an article in which they explored what they believed to be the next dominant logic of marketing, the so-called service logic. This logic suggests that firms should customize offerings and maximize consumer involvement to better fit consumer needs (Lusch and Vergo, 2004). Now, ten years later, this service-logic is more than accepted as many firms do not only provide a service to their consumers but are facilitating a service provided by consumers themselves (Wind, 2008).

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Sharing Your Home with Strangers - Collaborative Consumption with Airbnb

How come I, along with thousands of others, suddenly have the urge of living in strangers’ homes while travelling? I am a person who gladly avoids taking unnecessary risks and the bare thought of doing something ‘bad’ makes me quite anxious. Despite all of this, I have put my money and trust into people I have never met, multiple times, in the hope of getting to experience a good living accommodation during my travels. 

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PART 2: COLLABORATIVE CONSUMPTION: WILL CAR SHARING REPLACE CAR OWNERSHIP?

In the first part we had a deeper look at the different concepts associated with the buzzword sharing. In addition, we analyzed how it can be distinguished from collaborative and access-based consumption, which are more accurate in order to describe the concept of car sharing. Furthermore, we came up with a definition of car sharing and we explained which circumstances have caused the rise of this phenomenon. One of the last points was that collaborative consumption is perceived as an alternative to ownership and Belk (2014) even suggests that we are entering post-ownership economy and that self-identity is influenced by what you can access instead of what you own. 

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COLLABORATIVE CONSUMPTION: WILL CAR SHARING REPLACE CAR OWNERSHIP?

Did you know that an average car in North America and Western Europe is in use only 8% of the time (Gansky 2011)? That means that more than 90% of the time the existing resources of these cars are wasted while other people don´t have the economic power to purchase an own car. A solution for this problem of missing reallocation of resources is collaborative consumption in form of car sharing. For more than one decade the concept of car sharing has gained huge popularity and owes its convenience to the internet and web 2.0 (Belk 2014). This and other contemporary phenomena have changed the consumer and their consumption behavior: The number of car sharing members worldwide is increasing while simultaneously car ownership among young people is decreasing and losing its popularity (Bardhi & Eckhardt 2012; Gansky 2011). 

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