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Crowd Companies Founder & Chief Catalyst Jeremiah Owyang is a guest author on our blog today, and co-author of our report.

Who are the people sharing in the collaborative economy, and what can businesses do to win in this emergent market?

These questions are the focus of our report, Sharing is the New Buying: How to Win in the Collaborative Economy, out today.

This report offers critical insight for big brands who are grappling with the emergence of the collaborative economy and for the startups that are driving this growth. For those new to the term, the collaborative economy is a powerful, if nascent, movement in which people are getting the things from each other - what is often called the "sharing economy", or even making them outright - also known as the "maker movement". (See our short video for an overview.) Just as social media enabled peer-to-peer sharing of content, the collaborative economy enables peer-to-peer sharing of goods, services, transportation, space and money.

The collaborative economy matters to established brands because in this movement, people can get what they need from each other - often bypassing traditional means. The people formerly called "consumers" aren't simply consumers: they are also funders, producers, sellers and distributors.

That means that many customers go to a site like eBay to buy pre-owned goods, instead of buying new products from retailers. Rather than staying at hotels, customers go to a site like Airbnb and rent rooms from other customers. And instead of borrowing money from big banks, customers can go to Lending Club or Kiva to finance their new business, their education or their next big purchase.

The collaborative economy is disruptive because it allows customers not just to share goods, services, transportation, money or space with each other - it allows them to compete with established brands.

While the collaborative economy is poised to disrupt many industries, there is remarkably little data on how many people participate in sharing, who they are, and, most importantly, why they do it. Our report paints a picture of the sharers in the collaborative economy and provides important recommendations for businesses that want to win in this new economy.

By engaging 90,112 people the US, Canada and the UK, we uncovered two distinct types of people who participate in the collaborative economy:

  • Re-sharers: Those who buy and/or sell pre-owned goods online (for example, on Craigslist or eBay), but have not yet ventured into other kinds of sharing.
  • Neo-sharers: People who use the newer generation of sharing sites and apps, like Etsy, TaskRabbit, Uber, Airbnb and KickStarter.

We contrasted sharers to a group we call "non-sharers": people who have yet to join the collaborative economy. Many of these non-sharers intend to try sharing services (in particular, re-sharing sites like eBay) in the next 12 months, so they are a key target audience for both established businesses and sharing startups.

The following infographic summarizes key findings from our report.

Our findings demonstrate one key insight: technology has enabled your customers to share, buy or sell directly to each other. The crowd is filling holes in the market that traditional business is too slow to respond to.

Sharing is the New Buying underlines the need for businesses to get closer to their customers: to thrive in the collaborative economy, businesses should engage and learn from their customers on a continuous basis. Using engagement tools such as insight communities, businesses are in a better position to uncover insight that enables real-time course correction and evolution of business strategies.

To learn more, read our report, Sharing is the New Buying: How to Win in the Collaborative Economy.

Market coverage

Here's a list of media outlets and blogs that have covered this report:

Jeremiah Owyang, Chief Catalyst and Founder at Crowd Companies
Alexandra Samuel, Vice President of Social Media at Vision Critical
Andrew Grenville, Chief Research Officer at Vision Critical
The Total Economic Impact of Vision Critical

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