Collaborative Consumption

whats mine is yours

The term collaborative consumption is used to describe an economic model based on sharing, swapping, bartering, trading or renting access to products as opposed to ownership. Technology and peer communities are enabling these old market behaviors to be reinvented in ways and on a scale never possible before.

From enormous marketplaces such as eBay and Craigslist, to emerging sectors such as social lending (Zopa), peer-to-peer travel (CouchSurfing, Airbnb) and car sharing (Zipcar or peer-to-peer RelayRides), Collaborative Consumption is disrupting outdated modes of business and reinventing not just what people consume but how they consume it.

The term was coined by Ray Algar, a UK-based management consultant in an article for the ‘Leisure Report Journal’ in 2007. The concept has since been championed by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers, co-authors of ‘What’s Mine Is Yours.’ Botsman sees collaborative consumption as a social revolution that allows people to ‘create value out of shared and open resources in ways that balance personal self-interest with the good of the larger community.’

Collaborative consumption is based on the concept that some persons will pay for the benefit of having access to product as opposed paying more to own it outright. The concept of reusing or public sharing of products is hardly a new one. For decades, many public and private entities have utilized some variant of public product sharing: libraries, laundromats, private reuse centers (Goodwill Industries, Salvation Army), public and private housing collectives, trade and exchange stores, bike-share schemes, and salvage centers. Some maintain a physical space (a reuse center), while others act as a matching service (an exchange).

In recent years, other forms of product sharing have appeared, including Peer-to-peer rental and neighborhood product service systems: rather than consumers renting services from businesses, platforms are emerging to facilitate shared usage with each other. A system of collaborative consumption is based on used or pre-owned goods being passed on from someone who does not want them to someone who does want them. This is another alternative to the more common ‘reduce, reuse, recycle, repair’ methods of dealing with waste. In some markets, the goods may be free and in others, the goods are swapped.

This system is based on people with similar needs or interests banding together to share and exchange less-tangible assets such as time, space, skills, and money. These exchanges happen mostly on a local or neighborhood level, as people share working spaces (for example, on Citizen Space or Hub Culture), gardens (Landshare), or parking spots (on ParkatmyHouse). Collaborative lifestyle sharing happens on a global scale, too, through activities such as peer-to-peer lending (on platforms like Zopa and Lending Club) and the rapidly growing peer-to-peer travel (on Airbnb and Roomorama).

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