Consumers seeking ‘brand endorsement’ of sharing economy

A global shift in consumption patterns is fuelling demand for economic models that focus on community and collaboration rather than accumulation and ownership, new research suggests.

A study from Havas Worldwide on the emergent sharing economy has found that consumers are increasingly seeking purposeful alternatives in the purchasing decisions they make, buying products that are more durable and paying more attention to the human elements of the transactions.

According to the report, 70% of 10,574 people surveyed across the globe believe that overconsumption is putting both planet and society at risk, with half believing they could happily live without most of the items they own.

This wave of smarter consumerism is seeing a rise in more community-led models such as peer-to-peer transactions and crowdfunding. Despite this, there is plenty of scope for brand involvement – for instance, six out of ten respondents would like to see brands act as guarantors of the products individuals sell online.

The report points to the fact that traditional retail models rely on trust, which is typically built over years. As more individuals look to disrupt those market, new ‘seals of approval’ and rating systems are likely to spring up – a transaction could be guaranteed by google for instance, or endorsed by a brand, offering an extra layer of assurance for consumers.

There is also widespread support for brand warranties being linked to the product itself, not simply to the original purchaser, suggesting greater demand for durability and extended (multi-owner/user) product lifecycles.

The vast majority of respondents not only said that they admired brands who encouraged customers to recycle or resell the products they purchased, but nearly two-thirds thought companies and retailers should help customers resell their goods.

Overall, the research suggests that businesses will need to re-assess how customers access goods and services, and involve them more as active participants, not passive consumers. Last year edie reported on how brand leaders are looking to turn this trend for collaborative consumption into a business proposition by forming strategic alliances with smaller, start-ups.

Commenting on the latest research, Andrew Benett, global CEO of Havas Worldwide, said: “People aren’t just choosing Brand A over Brand B because it’s produced closer to home or treats its workers better.

“They’re getting involved in the consumption cycle by contributing to the funding or even the creation of products they want and by reselling or renting out their unneeded possessions. They’re creating new formats for the exchange of goods.”

The good news for business, he added, was that data obtained points to all sorts of ways in which brands can get involved in these new consumption models – as beacons of trust, motivators of ‘good’ behaviour or as builders of community and connections.

Maxine Perella

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