YapStone Blog

“What the Sharing Economy Might Look Like in 2020” written by YapStone.

I wonder if our parents ever knew that a burgeoning economic boom could emerge from the fundamentals of solving problems between squabbling siblings: “Just take turns! You ride the bike around the block twice then let your brother ride around twice. Share or the bike goes back in the basement!”

Marketplace companies that focus on sharing are thriving. They provide the consumer with the freedom and the flexibility that the previous generations didn’t have, not to mention it’s still a concept that’s hard for them to grasp. “So you’re gonna get on your phone and have a stranger pick us up and drive us back to the hotel?” said my grandmother on a recent trip to Vegas.

But this is the new normal and it shows no signs of slowing down. One reason why the sharing economy has such a big effect on consumerism is that it appeals to so many aspects of the life of the consumer. Consistency is in high demand. If I ride a bike to work, I want to be able to do that even when I’m on a business trip in Paris. Marketplace platforms are allowing the consumers to have global consistency in many areas.

Another primary reason these businesses are successful is simply because they are economically advantageous . Doesn’t matter if you’re a poor college student eating ramen with ketchup and calling it Spaghetti, a CEO of a promising startup, or simply a person who has a passport that they’re determined to use, the sharing economy is a friend to any budget.

Why the Sharing Economy Will Continue to Grow

When it comes to the sharing economy, Millennials are in the driver’s seat.
In terms of consumerism, they want it fast; they want options; they want to maximize their resources; and they want it on their terms. Most importantly, they are just now reaching their peak spending years.

Grasping this fact is essential to any marketplace business trying to stay afloat in the the vast waters of the sharing economy. In the next few years, all millennials will be settled in that age gap between 35-55 years old when most consumers spend the most. And what will they be spending their hard earned dollars on? Everything. They are tech savvy, educated, culturally curious and socially plugged in. They are ready to strap their hand to the saddle of this bull called Life and ride that sucker ‘til he drops. And they have already proven they have no problem sharing in order to prolong the ride.

Travel is becoming more popular because social media has exposed more options and the sharing economy makes it more affordable. They see the dual benefits: sharing is both economically and culturally advantageous. It enriches life while simultaneously allowing one the financial flexibility to actually live the life they see others living on Facebook. The Baby Boomer generation is like “Remember that trip to the Grand Canyon we took?” and Millennials are planning to Airbnb the yurt in Bali they saw posted on their friends Instagram feed.

What is Next for the Sharing Economy?

Convenience will always be a big ticket item and the marketplace is expanding all the time to meet people’s ever growing needs. The simple principle, “If I have it and you need it, you can use mine…for a fee” should be at the forefront of every marketplace business owner.

It’s feasible that very soon almost everything you own will have the potential to earn income. You own a home in a trendy neighborhood with a garage and driveway, might that driveway you’re not using be the perfect parking spot for someone having dinner nearby? Someone buys an expensive circular saw to build a deck for their home but now it’s sitting in that same garage collecting dust, unaware someone less than a mile away needs a circular saw for a DIY project. Someone somewhere wants to play tennis next weekend but doesn’t want to buy tennis rackets because it’ll probably be a year before they play again and besides there is no room in their Tiny House for them anyway.

There’s a new trend as a result of the successful peer-to-peer business model to share your actual skills and capabilities on the marketplace. Laziness, meet opportunity. You say you have the ability to successfully understand IKEA instructions and build that impossible to pronounce entertainment center, the marketplace is exploding with opportunities to put your abilities to work for you. The sharing community is also exploring “pooled” delivery models. Businesses are not just targeting individual consumers in the marketplace but they are starting to cater to communities where consumers have similar needs such as on a college campus or in a retirement community.

The challenge for business owners has always been its ability to keep up with the ever changing whims of the consumer. That will be the case more so for marketplace businesses in the near future. Consumers will always be looking to customize their experience and business owners are learning more and more all the time that one size does NOT fit all. Every day we are re-evaluating our necessities and rearranging our priorities. The businesses that are able to adjust quickly, or better yet anticipate the change, will fare the best.