Time to talk a bit more about collaborative consumption – mainly because this is really starting to take off around the world. So what is it? Collaborative Consumption describes the rapid explosion in traditional sharing, bartering, lending, trading, renting, gifting, and swapping reinvented through network technologies on a scale and in ways never possible before.
In the definitive guide to collaborative consumption, What’s mine is yours authors Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers identify three types of collaborative consumption:
- Product service systems, where consumers pay for the benefit of using a product without owning it outright. Examples include car and bike sharing schemes, toy libraries and movie-on-demand services. Some of these are now pretty common in places like Melbourne with bike and car sharing schemes. Toy libraries and of course the most traditional of all – book libraries are everywhere.
- Redistribution markets, which move used or pre-owned goods to where they are needed. Traditionally this was through classified ads – these days it is a bit more sophisticated – the most famous being eBay but this category also includes swap sites like Freecycle and neighbourhood marketplaces like the garage sales, trash n treasure markets etc.
- Collaborative lifestyles, which refers to arrangements where people with similar interests band together to share and exchange less tangible assets such as time, space, skills and money. Examples include peer-to-peer travel services, crowdfunding sites and errand networks. So house swapping is an example that people can do for holidays.
This works for high end fashion as well when you have to ‘frock up’ for parties, events etc. There is no reason why you can’t share fashion outfits by subscribing to a site that gives you access to a lot of fashion items such as dresses, hats etc – you get to use them and then send them back cleaned for a fee – much cheaper than having to own it.
There are a heap of these sites now that offer items for nothing because people just want to get rid of things or as swaps – fashion, baby gear, toys etc are really good for this.
Neighbourhoods have set up collaboratives where someone might own a lawn mower and another might own the chainsaw – given there is relatively sporadic use for these items they can get together and share them. There are a lot of things we own for relatively little use but it is convenient to have that access. The thing about collaborative consumption is changing that ownership principle to a usage principle.