Have the sharing economy and collaborative consumption gained enough traction to warrant a research study funded by a major advertising agency? Yes, or so believes Campbell Mithun, the ad agency in question. 

"This trend is no longer emerging, it's here," according to Lynn Franz, Campbell Mithun's director of strategic planning. "And the marketplace should accommodate a consumer wanting nimble access to things instead of outright ownership of them. That drastically changes the go-to-market strategy."

Campbell Mithun sees three distinct areas comprising the sharing economy: consumer to consumer (C2C), business to consumer (B2C), and business to business (B2B). They also see huge marketing opportunities within each of those demographic bases and, therefore, wanted to better identify who businesses need to reach, what users want, and how to tell the story of their services.

Franz surmised, "Success in the sharing economy prioritizes the health and trust of the sharing network. When a brand offers real value to a consumer committed to the notion of sharing, that consumer will share not only his or her influence and endorsement, but a committed stake in seeing that brand succeed." And that's the sweet spot ad agencies aim for.

The study broke down participants by generation, with Gen X coming ahead in terms of passion for collaborative consumption. Gen X edged out Gen Y (or Millennials) when it came to the "very appealing" designation for sharing with 31 percent and 24 percent responding, respectively. Both generations, though, handily topped Baby Boomers who only had 15 percent in the "very appealing" category. Researchers noted that a number of factors, both rational and emotional, contributed to each group's affinity for sharing.

Ranked Order of Rational Benefits

  1. Financial – saves me money
  2. Environmental – is good for the environment
  3. Lifestyle – provides me flexibility
  4. Lifestyle – is practical
  5. Trial – provides access to goods/services

Ranked Order of Emotional Benefits

  1. Generosity – I can help myself and others
  2. Community – I'm valued and belong
  3. Lifestyle – I'm smart
  4. Lifestyle — I'm more responsible
  5. Cultural – I'm part of a movement

"Consumers want to own less but gain more," Franz added. "The perceived rational benefits all center on reduction and practicality, but the emotional ones deliver affirmation and belonging. So the marketer's brand must deliver value with meaning, which becomes personal depending on the consumer."

Go here for more infographics related to the study.

Kelly McCartney


Kelly McCartney |

Having won prestigious literary competitions in both grade school and junior high, I attended college with a Scripps Howard Foundation scholarship, earned a BA in Journalism, and interned at Entertainment

Things I share: I seek. I write. I think. I roam. I listen. I care. I wonder. I help. I flirt. I try. I dream. I grow.