Collaborative Consumption

  • How do new technologies enable collaborative consumption?
  • What new business models support collaborative consumption
  • What kind of consumers and target segments emerge?
  • What constitutes value in collaborative consumption?
  • How can companies govern and manage collaborative consumption?

Instead of buying and owning things, consumers are opting for access to goods and prefer to pay for the experience of temporary renting or sharing them. Examples vary from car or bike sharing programs (Zipcar, Barclays Bikes), peer-to-peer car or accommodation rentals (RelayRides, AirBnB), online borrowing programs for DVDs, fashion, or jewellery (Netflix, Rent the Runway, Borrowed Bling), to pure sharing and gifting (Couchsurfing, Freecycle, Bookcrossing).

The concepts of collaborative consumption challenge traditional ways of thinking (and the associated business models) because the value chain works differently, technology is mobilised differently, property rights in general and the concepts of ownership in particular are challenged, and the fundamental principles of monetisation are unclear. For instance, Bardhi and Eckhardt's (2012) work on access in the context of car sharing, Belk's (2010) conceptual outline of sharing in the context of family, Chen's (2009) study of experiential access to art in museums, and Lamerton and Rose's (2012) study of consumer adoption of sharing services have begun to shed some light on these differences.

Despite these advances, we still lack a unifying conceptualisation of collaborative consumption. Moreover, the business models that succeed in this environment depend on the behaviour of consumers in response to the technology that connects them. Software connects individuals with their material context, such as the Internet of things, and individuals with each other. The integration of the object into a network, the platform that connects potential users and objects, the payment mechanisms, and the virtual space all add up to a host of new material affordances that may represent opportunities for business. Technology plays an active role because it both limits and enables consumption and collaboration behaviour.


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