Didn’t Mom Teach You How To Share?
You may have heard whisperings of this new wave in consumer behavior. Perhaps you’ve even tried it yourself. It’s called the “Sharing Economy,” and it’s redefining the lifestyles of consumers around the U.S. and the globe.
One of the first companies to emerge in the space several years ago was ZipCar, which gave consumers the option to have a car when they needed it, without the hassle and expense of ownership. Or say you didn’t want to buy a vacation home, you could participate in a timeshare and enjoy some of the benefits of ownership without the full expense. But that’s about where it ended. Fast forward 10 or 12 years, and it’s a completely different story. Today, consumers are borrowing (often for a fee) everything from kayaks to iPads to desk-space.
As the concept matures, startup ventures across the country are helping individuals take the plunge into the world of asset sharing. Now, instead of renting a car for three hours from ZipCar, you can rent one from your neighbor down the street, using services like RelayRides and Getaround.com.
With the growth of the urban movement from four wheels to two, cities around the U.S. are introducing bike sharing programs like B-Cycle, which offer both locals and visitors access to publicly shared bikes for a small fee. Others are opting for peer-to-peer sharing programs, like San Francisco-based Spinlister, which allows individuals to rent out their personally-owned bikes by the hour, day, or week to strangers.
Entrepreneurs and freelancers can even share office space, renting out desks by the day or month through workspace sharing companies like Chicago’s COOP.
Don’t have a lawn mower? Need a tent for your camping trip? Yep, you guessed it — you can rent those, too! Online sharing platform SnapGoods allows owners to post their assets and renters to search for what they need. These “assets” can be truly almost anything — we even saw a listing for a t-shirt in Denver! And when you forget to pack your camera while you’re on vacation, you can find someone willing to lend you theirs… for a small fee, that is!
So, why be a part of this growing trend?
The value is practical in nature: why buy, when you can rent, without the level of investment that goes along with ownership? According to Mashable columnist Erica Swallows, consumers are finding themselves in a place where it becomes more valuable to have access to assets than to own them.
For those providing the services, it’s a way to make some extra cash off of your existing assets. Need to pay off your credit card bill? Rent out your BBQ grill for the weekend. Want to pay off your mortgage a little quicker? Open your home to travelers! (Ahem… sound familiar?)
Of course, the elephant in the room when it comes to the “Sharing Economy” is a little thing called trust. Who has it? Who deserves it? And how do you build it?
We’ll save that discussion for next time. But we’re dying to know… have you participated in the “Sharing Economy” in some way? Let us know in the comments!
Photo Credit: Eddie Clark