Where Does Advertising Fit in the Sharing Economy?

Posted by Francine Hardaway on June 5th, 2013 at 11:04 pm

Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working at jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need." - Rachel Botman

Le Web's London's opening presentation, with its theme of the Collaborative Economy, should be a wake up call to corporations, brands, and everyone in the advertising ecosystem. Your lives are about to change. the market has once again spoken, and if you think you've already been disrupted by social media, think again. You ain't seen nothing yet.

Loic LeMeur, Le Web's cofounder, opened this year's event with a starling presentation on the Collaborative Economy, a new movement in which consumers, especially the highly coveted and targeted millennials, have decided to share and rent rather than own things in a dramatic reversal of 50-year trends.

A number of factors have come together to influence this trend; the availability of excess capacity with high idle times, the worldwide recession, the growth of trust networks generated by social media, and a growing need for community. During my own lifetime, I've seen feelings of isolation grow, and the statistics are that the number of people dining and living alone has doubled in the past forty years. So it's not just a feeling.

During my lifetime, I have actually witnessed the sense of community vanish, and with it, happiness. It was brought home to me in Uganda and Rwanda, where people have less but their communities are stronger, and joy is palpable.

But it's an ill wind, as they say, and out of this isolation has come AirBNB, now used by 40,000 people a day in 30 cities; Lending Club, the alternative source of funding using friends and investors, and of course Kickstarter, where $320million has been pledged by 2.2m people for thousands of projects, including the 25,000 fans who donated $1.2 million for Amanda Palmer's new album. Lyft, a modern-day revision of hitch hiking, just raised $60 million, and shared car services like ZipCar have replaced car ownership for young people.

Only government regulations hold back the even faster spread of peer-to-peer trends, and governments are going to have to adapt, as they have to music and movie sharing via Netflix and Spotify. we domt have to own music and movies anymore, nor cars, nor even our meals. Cookening, a startup. uses people to cook for each other.

In the past year, 52% of Americans have rented, borrowed or shared things they used to own, and 83% of people are willing to do it, despite the $22 billion self-storage industry and homes that have doubled in size (and disillusioned their owners when equity evaporated).

The new generations, committed to sustainability and social purpose, have learned from us that choice
and income don't bring happiness, but community, trust and purpose might. It's a new consumer mindset that values transparency, participation, and collaboration. In this atmosphere, the new brand is no brand, and intrusive branding and advertising had better stay out of the way.

One Response to “Where Does Advertising Fit in the Sharing Economy?”

  1. Chloe says:

    Great blog, this is very important for advertisers to keep in mind. More and more people want to share, conserve resources, and be sustainable -- not buy what they don't need!

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