Dollars, Euros, Yen and Trust: Valuable Currencies in the Share Economy

Dollars, Euros, Yen and Trust: Valuable Currencies in the Share Economy

Trust is the cornerstone of any successful relationship, be it personal or professional. But what happens when the lines between public and private get blurred in a sharing economy? Trust transitions from expected to essential.

When innovative spins on familiar standards emerge, it often takes time to adjust to a new way of doing things. If parallels can be drawn to an existing behavior, however, that adjustment time can be greatly reduced, or disappear entirely. Today’s established comfort level with conducting online transactions has opened the door for sharing personal property via the Internet—something that may have seemed unfathomable even a few short years ago. A sharing community can only thrive if its users are comfortable enough to trust each other without the assurances of traditional contracts or safety nets.

Today, more than two-thirds (68%) of global respondents in Nielsen’s Global Sharing Economies survey say they are participating in a sharing economy by leveraging the unused capacity of the things they already own (bicycles, tools, household items, cars, homes, etc.) to earn extra income. A recessionary environment and stagnant wage market set the stage for the notion of sharing personal property for extra cash. But what started as a modest income boost for some has turned into a pipeline of revenue that Forbes estimates will surpass $3.5 billion this year.

“While the ability to build trust between strangers in the digital world is the foundation for share community success, it’s increasingly vital for every other business model, too,” said John Burbank, president, Strategic Initiatives, Nielsen. “And when it comes to reciprocal feedback shared via the Internet, consumers are not shy about voicing their opinions.”

Viral feedback can have a pervasive effect. Almost seven of 10 respondents (69%) in Nielsen’s recent survey indicated that they use the Internet to share their feedback—whether to voice a concern, offer praise or discuss a customer service issue. For the majority of these respondents (54%), social media are their go-to platforms to vent. About one-third (32%) make their opinions known via manufacturer websites, while 30 percent voice their feedback on retailer sites. And these opinions are golden—both for the businesses being reviewed, and fellow consumers. Word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family are the most influential source of advertising among 84 percent of global respondents, according to Nielsen’s 2013 Trust in Advertising Survey. If share communities can ease the initial concerns of renters by allowing them to draw from the experiences of others, barriers to the marketplace may be minimized and the opportunity to build trusting relationships opens wide.

Given this insight, consider how sharing can become an integral part of your business process. Think about rental agreements for those who prefer access over ownership, get customers involved with deliveries to local communities and brainstorm with customers to develop your next, best product innovation.

Your customer relationships are your true assets. Treat them as such. While share communities may add another link to the value chain, it need not disrupt your business. Rather, leverage the learnings to transform your customers into valued partners. Build loyalty programs that matter. Listen and act accordingly—online and off.

The report also covers:

  • How businesses can profit from the rise of share communities.
  • Detailed findings about the kinds of things we commonly share for profit.
  • Share community participation willingness by generation.

For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s Global Sharing Economies Report.

About the Nielsen Global Survey

The Nielsen Global Survey of Share Communities was conducted between Aug. 14 and Sept. 6, 2013, and polled more than 30,000 consumers in 60 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and North America. The sample has quotas based on age and sex for each country based on its Internet users, and is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers. It has a margin of error of ±0.6 percent. This Nielsen survey is based only on the behavior of respondents with online access. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60 percent Internet penetration or an online population of 10 million for survey inclusion. The Nielsen Global Survey, which includes the Global Consumer Confidence Index, was established in 2005.