Collaborative Consumption – Part 1

Why is PetHomeStay a ‘Collaborative Consumption’ business? And what does this mean for us in the future? I kick off a series of blogs about the future of this trend and where I think PetHomeStay fits in…

For those who need a brief refresher, Collaborative Consumption (#collcon)  is a trend that is gaining speed, and developing quick. Time magazine called it ‘One of the Top 10 Trends to change the World’ back in March 2011. Also called peer-to-peer marketplaces or ‘the access economy’, it is the concept of reusing or sharing excess ‘things’ (money, time, items, vegetables, cars, baby items, even houses) with each other directly, rather than buying something every time, using internet based technologies.

It was popularised by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers in their book ‘Whats Mine is Yours’ back in 2011, and expounded upon in this TED video, which has very nice infographics and is accessible.

Whilst probably not the first to verbalise about this community/ technology orientated form of economic activity, ( for further background please see Lisa Gansky@TED in 2010 on The Future is the Mesh or Ezio Manzini (who has been working for over 30 years on sustainable design)) Collaborative Consumption has become the most talked about on the net right now, so I will use this term from now on in.

The actual activity is nothing new – it has existed for thousands of years, and was in fact the first primary form of social trade before money even existed, which is bartering. All that has happened in recent years is that the Internet has made is possible to discover and find that which you want, and what you want to give for it, simply, quickly and (generally) with a high degree of success. And people are starting to use it!

Here is an excerpt from the Collaborative Consumption website which frames it nicely:-

From enormous marketplaces such as eBay and Craigslist, to emerging sectors such as social lending (Zopa), peer-to-peer travel (Airbnb) and car sharing (Zipcar or peer-to-peer RelayRides), Collaborative Consumption is disrupting outdated modes of business and reinventing not just what we consume but how we consume. New marketplaces such as TaskRabbitParkatmyHouseZimrideSwap.comZilok,Bartercard and thredUP are enabling “peer-to-peer” to become the default way people exchange — whether it’s unused space, goods, skills, money, or services — and sites like these are appearing everyday, all over the world.

Australia & NZ??

In Australia, I have been chatting to similar businesses such as TaskRunner, SideKicker (both general activity based like TaskRabbit), MeeMeep (couriering), mmMule (bring food from one country to another), OpenShed (borrowing tools or anything DIY/ garden). In NZ, I met the guys at HireThings a few years ago ( great concept well before their time I reckon), and of course, NZ’s own eBay killer, TradeMe.

There is a great list of Aussie #collcons at Unashamedly Creatives blog here. Anyone know if there is one for NZ companies?

Key Components as I see them…

All of these systems have a few things in common. As I see them these are:

  1. A common problem that the users are trying to solve.
  2. Adequate supply and demand on a location specific basis for the problem they need to solve.
  3. An easy-to-use system to list, request and record the transaction (ie easier than buying something from a shop/ person)
  4. Trust that is built into or generated by the system. (reviews, guarantees etc)
  5. A community of people that believe in the system.

When you look at the list above, this could actually apply to cash itself. This is why these systems could be so disruptive – they actually move away from cash and towards the value of the transaction taking place. PetHomeStay actually allows people to barter their community efforts as well as ask for cash.

I will expand on each of these in a later post, but Trust specifically is a hard one to pin down, as it is so subjective and specific to the individual transaction taking place.

Are #CollCons the way of the Future?

Absolutely. Whilst they will never totally replace shops and other forms of consumption, as better trust systems come online (TrustCloud is one, and there are others) and are wedded together people will use these more and more. They are certainly growing rapidly in use right now, (Airbnb celebrated over 60,000 people in one night recently).

Perhaps you are the best person to answer this – have you used any of these collaborative consumption businesses before? What did you like or dislike about them? Do you see yourself using these more and more? What kind of things would make you use them more?

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