THE BLOG

Goodbye Hyper-Consumption, Hello Collaborative Consumption

09/14/2010 11:06 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A "big shift" from the
20th century, a time defined by hyper-consumption, to a 21st-century
age of
Collaborative
Consumption
is
underway. The convergence of social technologies, a renewed belief in
the importance of community, pressing environmental concerns, and cost
consciousness are moving us away from the old top-heavy, centralized,
and controlled forms of consumerism toward one of sharing, aggregation,
openness, and cooperation.

We
now live in a global village where we can mimic the exchanges that used
to take place face-to-face but on a scale and in ways that never been
possible before. The inherent efficiency of the internet, combined with
its ability to create trust between strangers (two qualities the likes
of eBay and Freecycle have proven on steroids), has created an unbound
marketplace for efficient exchanges between producer and consumer, lender
and borrower, and neighbor and neighbor, with no middlemen in between.
As we explain in our upcoming book
What's
Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption
:

The collaboration at
the heart of Collaborative Consumption may be local and face-to-face,
or it may use the Internet to connect, combine, form groups, and find
something or someone to create "many to many" peer-to-peer interactions.
Simply put, people are sharing again with their community--be it an
office, a neighborhood, an apartment building, a school, or a Facebook
network. But this sharing and collaboration is happening in ways and
at a scale never before possible, creating a culture and economy of
what's mine is yours.

Every day people are using
Collaborative Consumption--traditional sharing, bartering, lending,
trading, renting, gifting, and swapping, redefined through technology
and peer communities. Collaborative Consumption is enabling people to
realize the enormous benefits of access to products and services over
ownership, and at the same time save money, space, and time; make new
friends; and become active citizens once again.

So how big and far-reaching
is this emerging socioeconomic groundswell? Watch this.

The likes of Zipcar and Netflix
were started a decade ago and have rapidly become household names. But
what do the next generation of businesses based on shared resources
and reinvented market behaviors look like? We have picked four Collaborative
Consumption "hot ideas" that we believe will rapidly grow as we
enter a new era of consumerism market by trust between strangers, access
over ownership and the primacy of experiences over more stuff.

    Bike sharing systems such
    as B-Cycle and Bixi are great but the start-up and maintenance costs
    are high, making them a challenge to scale, especially outside of city
    centers. Social Bicycles (SoBi) uses GPS, mobile technologies, and a
    secure lock that can attach to almost any existing bike rack and personal
    bicycle.

      Why is it a hot idea?

      SoBi is a smarter form of bike sharing at a third of the cost. "SoBi
      could be come a new form of personalized public transportation that
      changes the way people move through cities," explained founder Ryan
      Rzepecki.

        How could the physical
        objects we own, from books to gifts to kitchenware, be transformed into
        social experiences? Through TRACKit tags, each embedded with unique
        QR barcodes, the online platform Itizen lets you tell, share, and follow
        the "life stories" of objects.

          Why is it a hot idea?

            With the advent of smart
            phones and code reader apps, we are just at the start of seeing how
            QR codes will transform our relationship to things. "Itizen has the
            potential to influence a shift in how people view their possessions,"
            founder Dori Graff commented.

              Zipcar brought the idea
              of car sharing to the mainstream, but what about suburbs? And why did
              we need to introduce new cars when there are millions already sitting
              idle on the streets for an average of 23 hours a day? Peer-to-peer car
              sharing provides the technology and insurance to enable car owners to
              share their cars with their neighbors for an affordable hourly fee.

                Why is it a hot idea?

                  RelayRides enables owners
                  and renters to use the "idling capacity" of personally owned and
                  underused cars. Not only does this enable car owners to make extra
                  money, but as founder Shelby Clark explains, "It gives the community
                  an affordable transportation option, making it easier to live a car-free
                  lifestyle."

                    We all have books, DVDs,
                    games, and other media lying around our house that we are unlikely to
                    use again but can't quite bring ourselves to throw away. Swap marketplaces
                    are like match.com for our unwanted media, enabling us to swap things
                    we have for the things we want.

                      Why is it a hot idea?

                      Swapping is an old market idea gaining new relevance through technology.
                      It helps people save money and eek out the use of items, which has a
                      direct impact on the environment.

                      • Group Solar Power www.1bog.org
                        • The rapid growth of Groupon has shown the power of consumers banding together for discounts. One Block Off the Grid (1BOG) is applying the same idea to solar power. By using social media to get neighbors to group together they can negotiate massive discounts with trusted providers.

                            Why is it a hot idea?

                            Outside from reducing the hassles and costs of solar installation, once
                            a group of neighbors are in a collective there are other opportunities for
                            the group discount to be applied to other green improvements

                            SoBi, Itizen, RelayRides,
                            Swap, and 1BOG show how we can use social networks, smart grids, and
                            real-time technologies to reinvent outdated modes of business, leapfrog
                            over wasteful consumerism, and have the potential to fundamentally change
                            our consumer habits, for the better.

                            Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers
                            are the coauthors of
                            What's
                            Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption
                            .

                            Check out the online hub for Collaborative
                            Consumption
                            for
                            cool infographics, videos, stories, and resources for you to use and
                            share. You can even swap, barter, or gift your copy of What's Mine
                            is Yours
                            and track where it travels!

                            Excerpt from What's Mine
                            Is Yours by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers.
                            Copyright © 2010 by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers. Posted with permission
                            of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt
                            may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the
                            publisher.