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The Sharing Economy movement has gone mainstream.  According to a national consumer study, not only did a 60 percent of overall respondents find the concept of sharing appealing, but a full 71 percent of those who have used shareable products expect to continue.

The data confirms both the health of the trend and the need for marketers to acknowledge related shifts in the marketing landscape.  Minneapolis ad agency Campbell Mithun commissioned the study and partnered with Carbonview Research to quantify consumer response to the sharing concept nationwide.

“This trend is no longer emerging, it’s here,” says Lynn Franz, Campbell Mithun’s director of strategic planning. “And the marketplace should accommodate a consumer wanting nimble access to things instead of outright ownership of them. That drastically changes the go-to-market strategy.”

The national quantitative survey gathered opinions from nearly 400 consumers about the Sharing Economy.  Also called collaborative consumption, the trend is characterized by the sharing of expertise, goods and services in new and innovative ways, often powered by the social web.

Perceived “benefits” of sharing: a personalized value

Respondents ranked lists of both rational and emotional benefits of participating in the Sharing Economy.  No surprise: “saving money” topped the rational benefits list. But this show-me-the-money response becomes significant when considered alongside the top reported emotional benefit: “generosity to myself and others.”

“Consumers want to own less but gain more,” Franz continued. “The perceived rational benefits all center on reduction and practicality, but the emotional ones deliver affirmation and belonging. So the marketer’s brand must deliver value with meaning, which becomes personal depending on the consumer.”

Rank order of Rational Benefits

  1. Financial – saves me money
  2. Environmental – is good for the environment
  3. Lifestyle – provides me flexibility
  4. Lifestyle – is practical
  5. Trial – provides access to goods/services

Rank order of Emotional Benefits

  1. Generosity – I can help myself and others
  2. Community – I’m valued and belong
  3. Lifestyle – I’m smart
  4. Lifestyle — I’m more responsible
  5. Cultural – I’m part of a movement

Issues of trust shaped two thirds (67 percent) of consumers’ perceived fears about participating in the sharing economy.  Biggest barrier: concern that a lent item would be lost/stolen (30 percent), followed by worries about trusting the network (23 percent) and privacy concerns (14 percent).

Fears also addressed issues of value and quality, articulated as concerns about “sharing not being worth the effort” (12 percent), “goods/services being of poor quality” (12 percent) and “other factors” (9 percent).

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Good Decisions Require Good Data.