Is Sharing the New Buying?

Is Sharing the New Buying?

Rather than collecting dust, your seldom-used electronics, sports equipment and power tools could be collecting cash. Many people are already cashing in, as participants around the world are tapping into the sharing economy, an emerging global trend that some authorities value at more than $25 billion.

In a sharing economy, also known as collaborative consumption and peer-to-peer rental arrangements, people leverage the unused capacity of things they already own or services they can provide by offering them to others for a profit. A down economy, coupled with the ease of use and reliability of the Internet, has given rise to a network of part-time entrepreneurs that is turning personal assets into income.

“Share communities have given rise to an economic revolution that is getting noticed,” said John Burbank, president, Strategic Initiatives, Nielsen. “Connecting online for activities like shopping, managing finances, conducting research and watching videos have become an integral part of the daily routines for many. There is now an established comfort level that has opened the door for sharing personal property via the Internet that may have seemed unfathomable even a few short years ago.”

To measure the appetite for participation in share communities around the world, Nielsen polled more than 30,000 Internet respondents in 60 countries to identify who is joining, for what products and services, and where. The findings provide insight into how marketers can not only adjust to, but, more importantly, thrive in a share economy.

It turns out that more than two-thirds (68%) of global respondents in Nielsen’s survey said they are willing to share their personal assets for financial gain. Similarly, 66 percent say they’re likely to use or rent products or services from others in a share community.

Regionally, respondents in Asia-Pacific are most likely to share their own goods (78%) and to rent from others (81%). In Latin America and the Middle East/Africa, 70 percent and 68 percent of respondents, respectively, say they are willing to share their personal property, and 73 percent and 71 percent, respectively, are likely to rent products from others. While more than half of the respondents in Europe (54%) and North America (52%) are willing to rent their possessions for pay, fewer (44% and 43%, respectively) say they will lease goods and services from others.

But what are we willing to share? More than one-quarter of global respondents (28%) say they are willing to share or rent electronic devices for a fee, perhaps due to their portability and non-personal nature. Respondents in Asia-Pacific were most likely to share these products, and exceed the global average at 39 percent.

It isn’t just physical assets being exchanged either, as just over one-fourth of global respondents (26%) are keen to share their intellectual property in the form of lessons or services. Something as simple as running errands or teaching skills via the Internet, such as language or music lessons, requires nothing more than time and ability. Surpassing the global average for these types of activities are respondents in Latin America, where 30 percent indicate a willingness to share their experience for profit.

The next grouping of products include just about anything that isn’t nailed down. Power tools (23%), bicycles (22%), clothing (22%), household items (22%), sports equipment (22%) and cars (21%) were regarded as shareable by roughly one-fifth of global respondents. Less-popular sharing items include outdoor camping gear (18%), furniture (17%), homes (15%) and motorcycles (13%).

The report also covers:

  • How businesses can profit from the rise of share communities.
  • Share community participation willingness by generation.
  • The importance of trust as a currency in share communities.

For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s Global Share Community 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.