What Can You Share to Save Money?

How to save money using Sharing Economy business models & services.

Ranan Lachman Sharing Economy

Excessive mass consumption among families and individuals started in the 1920s and exploded in the mid-1950s. The automobile industry provided an enormous stimulus for the national economy. By 1929, it produced 12.7 percent of all manufacturing output, and employed one out of every 12 workers. Automobiles, in turn, stimulated the growth of steel, glass, and rubber industries, along with the gasoline stations, motor lodges, campgrounds, and hot dog stands that dotted the nation’s roadways.

Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers, authors of the Sharing Economy book, ‘What’s Mine is Yours’, refer to this endless mass acquisition of more stuff in even greater amounts as “hyper-consumption”, a force so strong that there are now more shopping malls than high schools in America. However, today, the Sharing Economy is revolutionizing how we acquire and use goods and services by opening up new opportunities for both consumers and workers, allowing people to work on their own terms.

According to a recent poll from TIME, Burson-Marsteller and the Aspen Institute Future of Work Initiative,  44% of U.S. adults say they have participated in the Sharing Economy, playing the roles of lenders and borrowers, drivers and riders, & hosts and guests.

What’s more, highly skilled jobs, like consulting and teaching, are now shifting to more sharing-economy-like models too.  For example, TeachersPayTeachers, founded in 2006 by a New York City public school teacher, allows teachers to earn money by selling their lesson plans as well as supplemental materials, to other teachers.  A recent PBS article said, “The overall concept of TeachersPayTeachers isn’t entirely new; teachers have always created extra materials or entire units for their classes and shared lessons with other teachers, but the advent of the Sharing Economy has changed things somewhat. The difference now is that teachers are earning money from their after-hours and weekend work and receiving a larger pool of feedback.”

Furthermore, PwC estimates that revenues from sharing in the travel, car, finance, staffing and music and video streaming sectors could rise from $15 billion to $335 billion by 2025.

With the unemployment rate still high, the Sharing Economy is enabling people to make money while they wait for job opportunities to open up. By reshaping traditional business and consumer models, these sharing services help create a healthier, more sustainable system with a more fulfilling goal than “more stuff.”

Here’s a short list of more sharing services that are saving people substantial money:

Hospitality and Dining:

  • CouchSurfing: connect with a global community of travelers to find a place to stay or share your home and hometown with travelers. Couchsurfers organize regular events in 200,000 cities around the world. There’s always something to do and new friends to meet.
  • Feastly: Passionate chefs (common people) who can give you access to hidden food gems you won’t find anywhere else. Feastly provides home kitchens to pop-up spaces, chefs cook in the most unique dining locations.
  • LeftoverSwap: a smartphone app to help you barter or give away your leftovers. The company’s website says, “Help save the world while enjoying food by fixing these pressing issues: -40% of the food goes to waste.”

Automotive and Transportation:

  • Uber: Like Airbnb, Uber is probably one of the most widely known sharing services in the industry. Uber connects riders to drivers through mobile apps, making cities more accessible and opening up more possibilities for riders and more business for drivers.
  • Lyft: Like many other transportation services in the sharing economy, the company’s mobile-phone application facilitates peer-to-peer ridesharing by connecting passengers who need a ride with drivers who have a car.
  • Getaround: Getaround is an online car sharing or peer-to-peer carsharing service that allows drivers to rent cars from private car owners, and owners to rent out their cars for payment.

Retail and Consumer Goods:

  • Neighborgoods: NeighborGoods.net is a social platform for peer-to-peer borrowing and lending. Need a ladder? Borrow it from your neighbor. Have a bike collecting dust in your closet? Lend it out and make a new friend. By sharing with your neighbors, you can save money while reducing waste and strengthen your local community in the process.  
  • Pley - Pley.com is the leading toy subscription service, helping parents save money, reduce clutter and conserve the environment. Members can choose from over 500 toys and never have their children be bored again. Once the kids finish playing, they simply swap out their toy for another one and enjoy endless fun.
  • Poshmark: Poshmark connects you to people whose style you adore, allowing you to shop their closets, anytime you’d like. Have items in your closet that you love, but just don’t wear anymore? List it for sale on Poshmark in less than 60 seconds. Sell what you have in your closet so you can shop for what you really love.

Media and Entertainment:

  • Amazon Family Library: With Family Library, you can share select content between two adults in your Amazon Household.
  • SoundCloud: a leading social sound platform where anyone can create sounds and share them everywhere. Recording and uploading sounds to SoundCloud lets people easily share them privately with their friends or publicly to blogs, sites and social networks.

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Sharing your housing? An old concept gets updated

2987911_origThe idea of co-living is hardly new. In Israel, for example, Moshavs and Kibbutzim, two kinds of cooperative communities based on residents sharing resources with each other, have been around since the early part of the 20th century, and small towns have been around since the dawn of mankind. With the onset of the Sharing Economy, though, a new form of co-living is taking root, and instead of being based on farms, this iteration of an old favorite is cropping up across the urban landscape.

These contemporary co-living initiatives all play off the concept that – much like tangible resources (common spaces, internet, silverware) – ‘community,’ too, is a commodity that can be traded and shared in exchange for money. And with the release of their pilot program for co-living, WeLive, in early January of this year, the coworking giant and tech unicorn WeWork in New York and The Commons in London has officially thrown its hat into the co-living ring.

Much like the office spaces that typify WeWork’s offices, the company’s new residential offering, WeLive, located at 110 Wall Street in New York City, is in keeping with the branding that has defined WeWork during its rise in the coworking industry. Although their new apartments do, irrefutably, fall into the category of “microapartments,” WeWork is hoping to make up for this lack of individualized space – to them, an advantage – by emphasizing community at home the way it already does in the workplace. With shared common spaces, including kitchens, movie theaters and game rooms, as well as planned community-oriented events and mixers organized by WeLive employees for their tenants. WeWork is aiming to bring the collegiate atmosphere of their office spaces to their WeLive apartments. In doing so, they are operating under the premise that their target demographic will find the experience of co-living to be transformative and enriching that the company will be able to continue to grow its residential arm,

With its $10 billion valuation, the company has demonstrated that “the We economy” carries great significance and weight to a new generation of young people who value community and collaboration in every facet of their lives. WeLive is merely an extension of this concept, as is every company that plays a role in the holistic Sharing Economy (like Pley for toys, or TaskRabbit for one-off assistance with odd jobs). While only time will tell if WeWork’s new residential initiative is a success, strong proponents of the sharing economy have faith that in opening WeLive, WeWork is simply moving us one step closer to a world of sharing.

Sources:

  1. http://www.fastcompany.com/3055325/from-wework-to-welive-company-moves-members-into-its-first-residential-building

Millennials in the Sharing Economy

The social economy is giving rise to a new consumer revolution.  In an era of connected consumerism, social media strategies are going to change your business.

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A friend expressed his disbelief the day he saw his 3-year-old daughter looking through a glossy magazine while “swiping” her finger across the cover photo in an effort to “turn the page”. Instead, nothing happened… of course, because it was a traditional magazine, which requires flipping or turning an actual page over, not swiping aimlessly like you would a digital screen!  Yet, in today’s world, this sort of behavior, or “digital literacy” seen among young people is more and more common.

The term “digital natives”, also referred to, “Millennials,” represents a generation born during the rise of the Information Age. Typically, these people are categorized as being born after the 1980s and who grew up in a world of increasing technology advancements. Although the “Baby Boomer” generation, named after the huge spike in U.S. births from World War II, is thought of as the country’s largest generation; in 2016, Millennials actually outnumber the boomers by 11 million people.  Furthermore, according to Forbes, Millennials represent about a fourth of the entire population, with $200 billion in annual buying power.  Therefore, understanding these generational traits have major implications for organizations around the world.

However, companies have been struggling to connect with this generation because many of the traditional methods of advertising have proven ineffective at capturing their attention. This resistance from traditional businesses is giving way to an understanding of the need to adapt and adjust to this “new normal”.

There is a review of data that shows Millennials have characteristics that set them apart. According to NPR, unlike their parents’ generation, Millennials are ushering in an age when minorities will lead the U.S. population. This is also supported by a shared Millennial trait of being a very ethnically and racially mixed generation.  Another shared characteristic among Millennials is civic-mindedness. Many define doing good with efforts related to protecting the environment. For example, according to a 2011 study by ad agency network TBWA/Worldwide and TakePart, 70% of young adults consider themselves social activists.

One industry offering a multitude of services aligned to these Millennials wants/needs is the Sharing Economy.  Today, many are continuing to discover the benefits of peer-to-peer exchanges of goods and services. For example, in regards to civic-mindedness, Sharing Economy ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft limit climate change by promoting sustainable travel.  Additionally, a sharing economy company such as Pley, a toy subscription  company, eliminates 10.5 pounds of CO2 emission for every toy it rents.  Home sharing companies also encourage sustainable travel. According to a study conducted by the Cleantech Group, trips that rely on home sharing companies, including bed-and-breakfasts, emit 66 percent less CO2 than trips using hotels, including hotels that have earned five-star efficiency ratings. This is because fewer resources are used to care for travelers.

In terms of being a very ethnically and racially mixed generation, corporations that hold contradictory views on political and social issues are at risk when it comes to reputation rankings amongst Millennials.  A prime example of this can be seen from the recent Chick-fil-A same-sex marriage controversy where the company CEO made public comments opposing same-sex marriage and resulted in protests and boycotts of the chain.  Regardless of the size of an organization, when it comes to using social and mobile technologies, one must work hard to build strong relationships with constituents, and to reach them wherever they are and at a moment’s notice.  To truly cultivate these relationships and to mobilize a base, organizations need to expand their outreach to include multiple online channels and tools such as social media, email, and mobile.  All of these platforms are experiencing explosive growth and will continue to gain momentum.

As the world becomes more networked, inclusive and diversified, more companies will need to  reevaluate their communication strategies and behaviors to reinvigorate their understanding of, and relationships with these critical stakeholders.

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