Sharing Economy – the growing trend of sharing
Sharing is not a new idea. Everyone has borrowed tools from their neighbour or a book from a friend. But lately, this concept has been taking on completely new dimensions. People now use the internet and progressive digitalisation to share property, objects or even services not just with friends and acquaintances but also with strangers.
The so-called sharing economy stands for companies and platforms that make it possible for private people to get in touch with others who are willing to lend you just what you need or who need to borrow something you are willing to share.
There’s almost nothing you can't share
The most known example for the sharing economy is certainly the online portal Airbnb. Users can rent or let apartments or individual rooms all over the world, which usually is much cheaper than staying in hotels. So when you go on vacation and would like to earn a little something on the side, you can simply sublet your empty apartment. Another extremely successful business model is employed by Uber. If you have extra room in your car, you can find paying passengers going your way using this service. But sharing does not only work for living spaces or transportation. Meanwhile, there are portals on which you can rent and borrow tools, books, games plus console, TVs, or even bicycles. If you have a lot of leftovers from the last party, unused food can be distributed on foodsharing.de. Almost every day, new online services where you can share stuff emerge. The great consumer interest is thus reflected in the growing economic significance of these services.
The concept of the future?
As an innovative and promising concept for the future, the sharing economy offers many benefits. The basic idea is a more efficient use of products and services in order to reduce the general consumption of society. Sustainability is very important here. The model, which was basically intended as a social concept, also clearly leads to greater flexibility for consumers. A positive side-effect is that the founding of new companies also creates a multitude of new jobs.
There is still need for clarification
When taking a closer look, some things about the economy of sharing still need work. With many providers, growth and profit are more important than sustainability. Attracted by the success of the new services, major companies are also entering into the market. For instance in car sharing, the Deutsche Bahn has created its Flinkster program, car2Go belongs to Daimler, and BMW offers cars via DriveNow. Since the concept also still does not have solid political and legal underpinnings, many operators are moving within gray legal areas. This can threaten traditional businesses that are obligated to follow legal regulations and restrictions. A prominent example for this is the pressure felt by taxi drivers due to Uber. On top of that, users of these platforms also have to do research on their rights and obligations. In many cases, for instance, the insurance question is not 100% clear.
Nonetheless: the sharing economy will most likely continue to grow in coming years. This is supported especially by the popularity of these services among younger people. Almost one third of 25 to 39 year olds European have already used a sharing service – and the trend is rising.1