The sharing economy began in Silicon Valley on the West Coast of the United States in the late 2000s. Airbnb launched in 2008 as a private lodging service that connects owners of vacant rooms with people who want to stay, and in 2010, it was a ride-hailing service that matches users who want to get around with private car drivers. “Uber”, which started “Uber”, is a typical example.
After that, similar services rapidly developed and spread in Western and emerging Asian countries. In Japan, an increasing number of companies entered the market around 2012, and the market size is expanding.
The emergence and spread of the sharing economy are primarily due to the distance of the Internet and advances in IT technology. Now, everyone can use devices like smartphones to easily publish and share information about the things and spaces they own and even secure online payments. Now you can do it. As a result, business models based on new ideas, such as the sharing economy, have become possible.
Of course, technological advances are not the only factor that has led to the rapid adoption and expansion of sharing economy services. The trends of the times and changes in consumer mindset have also had a significant impact.
After World War II, developed countries such as the United States and Japan, which entered a period of high economic growth, created a consumer society along with economic growth, and people became more and more materially affluent. However, the age of “consuming things” will eventually reach its limit.
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People’s desire to own things has begun to decline, and consumption behavior has changed to “experiential consumption,” which seeks valuable experiences and services rather than owning things. The sharing economy emerged, where people do not hold goods and services and can use them only when needed.
Furthermore, since the 1990s in Japan, life has become increasingly difficult for younger generations due to the economic downturn and increase in non-regular employment. Another factor that must be considered is that the younger, more frugal generation thinks using sharing economy services is less wasteful and more economical than buying new things.
In recent years, people’s awareness of ecology (environmental conservation) and sustainability (sustainability) has been increasing, and the sharing economy, which uses surplus goods and spaces, matches these sensibilities of modern people. At the “Sustainable Brand International Conference 2019 Tokyo” held in March 2019, a session titled “Redesigning Japan’s Good Life Strategy from the Perspective of Consumer Surveys” was held.
Generation Z (a group of young people born between the 1990s and 2000s) makes up the majority.
A web reader survey found that “More than 70% of Generation Z are interested in social issues.” Furthermore, at the Conference 2020 Yokohama, there was a strong message that Generation Z is a generation with a high level of interest in social issues and that sustainability is at the core of their values and behavior.
From this point of view, it is thought that Generation Z is promoting the use of the sharing economy as a natural behavior.
Furthermore, the use of social media, including SNS, has become commonplace, and people have become less reluctant to interact with others via the Internet.
In the previous section, we explained that among the five genres of the sharing economy, skills-sharing services are mainly growing in Japan because the hurdles are low, making it easy for skill providers to participate and companies to enter. In addition, there is a view that family structure and lifestyle changes are also related.
In modern Japanese society, there are fewer households in which multiple generations, such as parents, their children, and grandparents, live together, and the number of single-person households, nuclear families, and households with both parents working and raising children is increasing. It tends to need more. Furthermore, as work style reforms encourage more women and seniors to operate flexible working styles, demand for services that share skills, such as housework and childcare, is expected to continue to increase.
Why Sharing Economy Services Continue To Gain Momentum Even In The New Normal Era
The coronavirus pandemic has hit companies in a variety of industries. The sharing economy is no exception.
As travel from overseas is restricted, and people are encouraged to avoid going out, sales of tourism and travel-related services, such as private lodging agencies and services that share means of transportation, such as ride sharing and car sharing, have significantly decreased.
Naturally, people are now avoiding face-to-face services and services that involve sharing objects and spaces due to concerns about infection.
There is a growing view that as we enter the new average era, people’s consumer mindset will shift from “consumption of things” that are shared and experienced to “consumption of goods” that they own.
But the truth is, the sharing economy movement is far from over. Among sharing economy services, while some businesses are sluggish due to the coronavirus pandemic, some businesses are increasing their performance, so the business is doing well overall.
In addition, many companies have attracted customers by reviewing their business content in line with social conditions, such as by quickly bringing experiential services online.
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