Collaborative Consumption

By:  Jeanne Christensen, RSM

A ‘Big Shift’ from the 20th century, a time defined by hyper-consumption (or conspicuous consumption), to a 21st century age of collaborative consumption is underway. Collaborative consumption describes the rapid explosion in traditional sharing, bartering, lending, trading, renting, gifting, and swapping redefined through technology and peer communities. The primary source for information on this topic is here.

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travel (Airbnb) and car sharing (Zipcar or peer-to-peer RelayRides), Collaborative Consumption is disrupting outdated modes of business and reinventing not just what we consume but how we consume.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 TaskRabbit, ParkatmyHouse, Zimride,, Zilok, 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. Don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard of these as most of us haven’t.

What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption is a groundbreaking original book that includes dozens of stories of how entrepreneurs and businesses are innovating in the space of Collaborative Consumption.  Financial Times says it is: “A remarkably hopeful and accessible book about a social revolution gaining momentum.”

Major areas for collaborative consumption include:

  • Product service systems where individuals Pay for the benefit of using a product without needing to own the product outright. Disrupting traditional industries based on models of individual private ownership.  This could be anything from car sharing to sharing solar power to toy rental to fashion rental to textbook rental.
  • Redistribution markets where used or pre-owned goods are redistributed from where they are not needed to somewhere or someone where they are.  Redistribution includes craigslist, eBay, free/gift exchanges, swap sites for books and other items, clothing swaps – the possibilities are many.

Collaborative lifestyles where People with similar interests are banding together to share and exchange less tangible assets such as time, space, skills, and money.  This can include coworking spaces, social lending, bartering, gardens, skill sharing, parking spots, errand and task networks, and other creative options.

Find two brief videos on this topic here  and here.The second video gives a concise explanation of the concept of collaborative consumption and its value.

For further reading:

Alex Goldmark, GOOD Magazine — October 11, 2011
“Peer to Peer Lenders Take Banks Out of Credit Equation”

Kevin Lee, Forbes — October 25, 2011
“Can China Lead The Development of a Shared Value Economy?”

Derek Thompson, The Atlantic — November 9, 2011
How Steve Case and His Company Are Driving the Sharing Economy

Bryan Walsh, Time Magazine — Thursday, Mar. 17, 2011
Today’s Smart Choice: Don’t Own.  Share


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