Shared economy and social change
The shared economy or collaborative consumption is not a new concept. Your Uber or Lyft ride or Airbnb stay is an example of peer-to-peer collaborative consumption. What makes this concept interesting is the ability of companies based on the sharing economy to provide simplified but pleasant experiences to consumers. This simple service-driven concept is enabled by technology and is quietly having a profound impact on our society, driving social change.
By definition, social change is a process of major changes over a period of time in the behavior pattern, cultural values, and norms of society. These changes have a long-term impact on society. So let’s understand how these new age companies working on the old sharing economy model are helping to bring about social change:
1. Socially we are moving from ownership to sharing: If you look closely at these companies, they do not offer any technology for you to use or offer direct services. Delicious experiences are delivered by someone who shares the goods and services with you. This is helping people move from full ownership to a shared model, opening the door to an unknown set of people from all over the world. This mode of sharing cannot be seen as a sale, as the service provider allows you to be a part of something that belongs entirely to them and that they probably use as part of their daily lives. The more people share, the more it grows, and the more it grows, the more it shares. In this way we are moving from me and you to us and us, leading to a harmonized happy world. This is the basis of the new direction and a paradigm shift that is leading a new way of life: a social change.
2. We are trusting in the unknown: Every time you consume a service through the shared economy model, you trust the unknown. Yes, there are reviews about the services you plan to consume, but you have to trust reviews from people you don’t know and therefore trust the unknown. Consumers in one part of the world trust people in another part of the world, who they may never have visited. Picture this: You’ve planned a vacation trip to Chicago and you’ll be traveling from the comfort of your home in Colombo. You’ve booked a room through Airbnb and don’t know anything about your host in Chicago. The only source of information is some of the great reviews about the host. Still go ahead and complete a great stay with the host and give 5 star reviews. This really is happening and happening all over the world at a rate faster than your reading speed. Phenomenal. We as a society are willing to trust more and take more risks to become global citizens. Looking more optimistically, this model of mutual respect and trust is having more success than the traditional model of consumption. This ability to trust the unknown is challenging well-established brands. It is making them innovate and earn consumer trust on the basis of better services or value, or else they are clearly facing extinction. We are sharing more, we are also caring more and now we are trusting more as a Society.
3. We are accepting the change: When you opt for services through the Shared Economy model, you are moving from the traditional scheme to a completely new consumption model. The old models are more mature and it’s easy to stick with the old reliable way of doing things, but the world is embracing this change. If the growth of companies like Uber or Airbnb is any indicator, then it is clear that the world is moving almost in one direction and that is moving from the traditional system to a new age model. When you look at major surveys, you’ll find that Airbnb is booking more rooms than Hilton or Uber, operates in over 250 cities, and has a better market valuation compared to many of the world’s leading airlines. This is not a surprise at all. With the proliferation of mobile connectivity and the Internet, we will see this change being embraced by a larger population, ensuring a deeper and more significant impact on society.
4. We are supporting social entrepreneurship: Imagine this: An elderly lady in the UK has a 3-bedroom apartment near the city center and doesn’t want to rent it long-term (1 year or more) as her distant family visits once or twice a year. At the same time you want to make the real estate investment profitable. She likes meeting people and doesn’t want to be alone. With the sharing economy model, you can do all of this with the ease of a few clicks. All you need to do is upload the details to Airbnb or similar portals that you trust. She can not only monetize the investments, but she will also have the opportunity to meet people from diverse backgrounds. There’s no need to go through the hassle of hiring each tenant or hiring staff to run the show, no need to mess with the authorities, no need to post expensive ads, no follow-ups, and no need to hire real estate agents. In this new model you can manage your own business in a simple but very effective way. When society begins to support its constituents, progress is inevitable. The whole world, well almost, is coming together to support you and make you succeed. That is social entrepreneurship.
5. And we are helping the Environment: This one is easy to understand but it has the most important impact on our future. When you opt for car sharing, bike sharing, or ride sharing, you’re actually helping to reduce your carbon footprint, you’re saving fuel, and everything in between. Instead of buying new stuff, we’re reusing and monetizing existing assets by sweating them out, which is always better than throwing out and buying new. The sharing economy model helps reuse stranded assets like cars, bikes in empty rooms, as well as toys that otherwise sit idle taking up space and are rarely used. Underused assets quickly become waste and this model helps eliminate that. By doing this, we are helping to relieve pressure on the environment by reducing the amount of old products that are thrown away or thrown away and also reducing the ever-increasing demand for new products. Add to this reduction in traffic congestion, the savings due to lower consumption of energy and resources, and you will clearly see the benefits of this new model in our Society as a whole. We are helping ourselves and the future of society as a whole.
As you may have noticed, there is an inevitable change that we are all going through: we share more, we accept more, we embrace the new, we become diverse, and we make tomorrow better. This is definitely a major paradigm shift that will slowly lead to a social revolution with far more lasting impact than current technological advances.
With the rise of Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud or SMAC, in short, this change will go even deeper and start to impact the bottom of our social pyramid.
We are surely living in more interesting times than ever before: on the one hand, we are moving towards automation/robotics and, on the other hand, we are opening up to the world as one society and generating social employment by sharing more, trusting more. care more and hug more.