Communities used to meet in town squares to buy, sell and swap goods. For a while, that model all but disappeared, but thanks to a host of new social networks and other web platforms, people can now trade, swap, rent or barter goods, skills, services or expertise with considerable ease.
Shift from owning to renting has been a common topic in the news. In fact, Rachel Botsman’s book ”What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption” presents a compelling case for 21st century sharing. Check out her video from the recent TED conference:
To some, this may look like the purse-tightening aftershocks of the economic recession – for financial reasons, renting something often makes more sense than buying it. But what we are seeing emerge is a more fluid approach towards ownership, and a dramatic shift in consumption habits. In fact, purchasing products altogether – regardless of price and/or size – is losing some of its allure.
But it’s not just about changing our consumption habits; it’s also about a widespread value shift. A shift from valuing possessions to valuing usage. A shift from valuing ownership to valuing access. There is also the social aspect. By sharing our things, we are exhibiting a sense of sociability. In an era when families are scattered around the country and people may not know the people down the street, sharing things – even with online strangers – allows people to make meaningful connections.
As is the case with collaborative consumption, we here at WEB like giving new concepts new names…and therefore creating our own vocabulary. In the interest of this revamped concept, we are referring to it as “self-secondary markets” because of how the end-consumer is shifting — in fact, the consumer itself, rather than then company or brand, is the one creating the secondary market.
There is tremendous activity in this space right now. Here are a few examples:
- RelayRides helps car owners rent their vehicles to other people. It’s similar to Zipcar, but without the fleet;
- The Ritz Carlton’s Loan-A-Lab program provides guests a yellow Labrador to “borrow” for hiking and other types of excursions;
- Peer-to-peer money-lending through Zopa.com allows people to completely sidestep the banks. The default rate is also less than 1%.
The growth of self-secondary markets represents a new and potentially highly lucrative value-add for companies and organizations looking to expand and redefine traditional ways of conducting business. In a time of collaborative consumption and growing competition, access to the consumers may well be the most valuable asset to a business.