The Social Network has evolved into the Services Network – this was the revolutionary idea, based on the concept of collaborative consumption, presented by Lauren Anderson at ESADE this week.
What is collaborative consumption? All kind of economic arrangements in which participants share access to products or services, rather than having individual ownership. Think about sharing, swapping or selling second-hand goods, and that often is enabled by technology and peer communities.
Elsewhere it’s described as a paradigm shift (a term used by ESADE); a time to start caring about sharing, according to the Economist; one of the 10 Ideas that Will Change the World, for Time; or in the words of Rachel Bostman, the currency of the new economy.
At the Observatorio Consumo we spend our time analyzing insights we get from Spanish consumers. And we are seeing two groups of consumers. Firstly a niche with an advocacy attitude, they even prefer talking about peers, rather than consumers. People disposed to buy to change the world, with a buycott attitude (proactive purchasing decisions to buy products linked to specific values) that research shows never last.
The big segment are those non-activist consumers, looking for convenience, excited by becoming co-creator of services, and attracted by the concept of a sharing lifestyle. For a start, there’s Generation Y – a generation disenchanted with status conferred by ownership and purchasing power, who simply want access to and the use of products.
So who’s who in the collaborative consumption panorama?
At our event we met some local startups with interesting ideas. There is Social Eaters who are bringing strangers together over a meal – users meet online and eat offline, sharing costs in the process. Another is Trip4real which gives peers the unique chance to share a Barça match with a real supporter, full service, beers and flags included. My personal favourite was Bla Bla Car – a great idea that makes hitch-hiking look Stone Age, and uses pure emotional branding through the main benefit offered by sharing your car.
And then Lauren Anderson brought out the big guns with the idea of Services Network. And talked about TaskRabbit, a company based on the principle that you can outsource your daily chores to your neighbours, who bid for the job against its difficulty, time commitment, effort and distance. May be Lauren is right. We are beginning to see social networks evolve into service networks and the path is there for a real paradigm shift.
How about you? Are you ready to start caring about sharing?