What’s Mine is Yours

At 24% of the Canadian population, we, the millennials, will continue to be key influencers of commerce trends for generations to come.

One trend in particular created by this generation is the idea of the sharing economy.

And let me be clear, this is not just a buzzword. This concept is here to stay.

The sharing economy is the notion that purchasing and individual ownership of possessions is no longer practical, but instead, sharing resources is emerging to be a more far more appealing option.

High profile companies, such as Uber for a car sharing taxi service and AirBnB for personal property renting as a means of hoteling are businesses catering successfully to sharing economies.

To some older generations, the emergence and early success of this sharing economy concept has been puzzling. There always seemed to be a sense of pride in ownership of a car or house, in order to grant a sense of independence. But for millennials, we no longer seek gratification through these avenues.

One thing that businesses and marketers are starting to realize is that millennials will not easily commit.

This is for primarily two reasons.

1. The first, is that as education and living costs rise, we have accumulated much more debt, and well - commitment can be expensive.

Owning a car and buying a house are long term goals, very unrealistic out of university. The shared economy leverages community and technology to grant that same independence. Zipcar, for instance, enables car usage whenever desired without bearing the same financial stress of buying a car, paying insurance, repairs, maintenance etc.

2. The second reason for the lack of commitment is that millennials are more nomadic than generation predecessors. Individual ownership of less tangible“stuff” enables us to travel, switch jobs, and follow our dreams much more fluidly.

For example, at the age of 22, I have been employed by over 6 different organizations, a much different tale than my grandparents working with the same employer their entire careers. With no car or apartment, I am free to pick up and travel wherever and whenever I like, with my most crucial possessions easily transportable, being stored on the cloud or in an app.

Our obsession with deviating from commitment is further exemplified through:

  • Tinder and uncommitted hook-up culture as well as couples waiting much longer to marry
  • Phone companies shortening contract periods
  • Pay as you go phone and gym memberships on the rise
  • Ownership of movies and albums overtaken by streaming platforms such as Netflix and Spotify

From a marketing lens, this poses something quite nightmarish. Consumer commitment is integral to brand loyalty and retention of market share is crucial in driving sustainable growth.

With that being said, here are the 5 best things that sharing economy organizations recognize and do really well. These can be applied to any business for catering to and retaining the generation that seemingly just won’t commit.

1. Collaboration tools. We are a collaborative generation, happy to lend our peers pretty much anything. Because true camaraderie means what’s mine is yours. So whether it be shared google drive documents, playlists or advice, sharing and collaboration applications are trending.

2. Free trials. Would you buy a car without a test drive? Would you propose before dating? Exactly. Commitment is easier after firsthand experience as sometimes peer testimonials just don’t cut it.

3. Incentives. The hardest part for many apps and products is the initial acquisition. I downloaded Uber because of the free ride it offered on download when I lost my wallet — Haven’t turned back since. I downloaded Spotify for the 7-day trial last month when my Apple Music trial expired. I realized I like Spotify’s sleek interface and playlist selection far more and have tied the knot, having just paid my first month. Millennials come for the promo and stay for the product.

4. We are digital critics. Growing up in the age of technology, we have seen thousands of apps and websites. Offering a good experience with emphasis on ease of interaction, rich functionality and aesthetic design, will always be an attractive selling point. Customer experience that encompasses digital design as well as effective customer support mechanisms are highly influential in driving loyalty.

5. We love the cloud. Instead of requiring consumers to carrying something physical, if your product or service can be offered online, then offer it, or risk being replaced by a company that can.

The sharing economy will by no means dissipate as quickly as it appeared. It is grossly important to the younger demographic and is here to stay, staking out a vital piece of the entire economy. By adhering to the aforementioned advice and staying ahead of the innovation curve, companies can continually entertain the minds and pockets of this highly transformational generation.