For post-war western societies, consumerism was a direct reflection of the benefits of capitalism. Today, modern consumerism continues to encourage the idea of continuously increasing the consumption of goods and services, for an individual to gain happiness and wellbeing. It is seen with both positive and negative perspectives.
These perspectives have changed in recent decades, partly due to production offshoring, diminishing economies and increased awareness on the environmental and psychological consequences of consumerism.
A result of these changes is the nurturing of a new economic model that is defined by "peer to peer (P2P) based activity of sharing access to goods and services". This is known as sharing economy.
What is Sharing Economy?
In a conventional economy, the need for a good or service is fulfilled by buying certain assets, which aligns with the economic motives of modern consumerism. In contrary, in today's age of big data, networks of connections have been built between individuals via various platforms, enabling unforeseen opportunities in commerce and trading. Specifically, it allows people to pay for services temporally, rather than buying them.
Sharing economies have always existed to some extent. A prime example of this is seen in the property market, where homeowners let their apartment to tenants who are unable or unwilling to buy an apartment. This phenomenon arises from the fact that home ownership is unaffordable in many cities, especially for young couples. It is seen as an effective economic model, as homeowners can let under-utilised apartments and earn additional earnings from rents, whereas tenants can rent an apartment at a substantially lower initial cost than purchasing one.
The evolving influence of Sharing Economy
The main difference between "sharing economies" today and decades ago, is the role of a mediator to connect customers and sellers. In the past, there was a necessity for an intermediary administrator, who handles basic customer relations. Today, they have been replaced by online platforms, which are equally effective mediators that promise cheaper and faster services.
For instance, while the Hotel and Resorts chain Hilton took 93 years to build an inventory of nearly 600,000 rooms, Airbnb took merely 4 years. This example reflects the effective resource utilisation achieved with Sharing economy. However, there are also other non-economic gains that are not reflected by the numbers, such as efficient land use and the well-being brought from unique host experiences.
Trends in Sharing Economy
How are up-and-coming companies in various sectors utilising sharing economy to streamline consumer experiences and business operations? The following is a couple hand-picked examples from selected industries.
Hospitality: e.g. Airbnb
Airbnb allows hosts to let their vacant bedrooms, making the best use of their homes. Similarly, tourists seeking for alternative experiences for travel now enjoy cheaper accommodation, compared to hotels.
With Nu Wardrobe, an up-and-coming fashion startup, users can bring their wardrobe online and share their clothes with the community. This extends the life cycle of people’s clothes and significantly reduces garment waste, without compromising on style.
Transport: e.g. HiyaCar
Meet HiyaCar. Drive a car without owning one, by hiring a car from people in the neighbourhood. HiyaCar’s peer to peer car renting network keeps communities running.
Skill Sharing: e.g. Kesero
In an increasingly knowledge-based society, the employment market is becoming more volatile. But skills are still a useful currency, so Kesero helps people find others in the community who might have smarter ways of doing things, cheaply and instantly.
Just to sum things up
Ultimately, "sharing economy" is and will be expanding its influence across various industries.
Here at VoltShare, we believe in a future with sharing economy.
We see that it is a more economic, efficient and environmentally sustainable mode of commerce for the community. This has ultimately motivated us to create an EV charging platform that links charge owners and EV users effectively. This enables charger owners to make earnings from sharing their chargers, and EV users to search for numerous fairly priced charging services from the community.
Join us in our mission to push Britain towards electric!