Participation in the collaborative economy has grown by 25 percent in the past year alone. That’s one of the key findings we shared in The New Rules of the Collaborative Economy, a Vision Critical report I co-authored with tech strategist Alexandra Samuel.
As the infographics below shows, more than 110 million North Americans now do some form of sharing in the collaborative economy. More than half of North Americans now get the products and services they need from each other, peer to peer, instead of buying from established corporations.
The rapid rise of the collaborative economy raises an important question for businesses: what’s driving the growth of this movement? More importantly, is it a permanent shift in customer behavior? Data in our report, which draws on input from more than 50,000 North Americans, provides some crucial insight on these issues.
We found that a big driver of growth in the collaborative economy is the adoption of newer forms of sharing services. In 2014, 16 percent of American sharers engaged in only one form of sharing: by buying and/or sharing pre-owned goods. This year, that number is down to 10 percent because people are trying a broader range of sharing services.
Looking at the various categories of sharing services, we’ve seen an across-the-board increase in sharing. Sharing of goods is still the most common form of participation in the collaborative economy, but there’s also significant growth in crowdfunding, space-sharing and custom products. Online learning, a sharing category we included for the first time this year, is already seeing a 15 percent participation rate.
The growth of the collaborative economy isn’t about to stop anytime soon. Based on people’s intent, we’re predicting that eight in 10 Americans will be part of the collaborative economy by 2017—a 20 percent increase from 2015. Growth of “neo-sharing”—participation in the latest generation of sharing services—will fuel the overall growth of the collaborative economy. For every person who has participated in a form of sharing in the past 12 months, there’s a new person who intends to try that type of neo-sharing in the year to come.
Clearly, the collaborative economy is here to stay. Combating startups, complementing sharing services and gaining a deeper understanding of the empowered crowd is an urgent call for established corporations today.
So what does this mean for established corporations? Three things:
- This is not a fad or trend—it’s a movement that’s here to stay. Adoption is accelerating due to social trends, economic conditions, and availability of powerful technology.
- Not all behaviors are the same. As indicated above, the sharing of goods is dominant, but every industry must first understand how their market segment is changing.
- Established companies must lead this movement by changing their business models to suit the needs of changing customer preferences. We’ve shared more in our recent webinar.