In September 2016, Chief Sharer of The People Who Share Benita Matofska and Social Photographer, Sophie Sheinwald, are launching an exciting book project called Generation Share. They’ll be crowdfunding the project which will involve travelling around the world interviewing and photographing the people for whom the Sharing Economy has become a way of life; the people that Benita calls Generation Share. This is the first in a series of blogs from Sharing Economy expert, Benita Matofska on Generation Share.
Who is Sharing? The People Driving the Sharing Economy
By Benita Matofska
I coined the term ‘Generation Share’ back in 2011 when the Sharing Economy was just 3 years old. Much has happened in the sector in the last 5 years; we’ve seen start-up whippersnappers disrupt behemoths then become them; we’ve witnessed jobs-for-life and the 9-to-5 replaced by gigs-for-love and co-working.
But one thing has never changed. This is a ‘people’s economy’ and it’s the people (the sharers) who are doing the sharing. In the beginning, the people creating the Sharing Economy and driving it (some quite literally) were millennials, most aged 25-34, middle class, educated, looking for experiences, adventure and a desire to belong. I called them ‘Generation Share’, a global peer group, connected via technology, united by sharing resources and driven by possibility.
Research showed that of the world’s 2.68 billion millennials, 73% saw the Sharing Economy as important to them1, preferring to access rather than own goods. With most sharers having a degree or other qualifications and earning over $100,0002 a year, the Sharing Economy, it seemed, was a young thing, an educated thing and most certainly, a middle-class thing.
Fast forward to 2016 and ‘Generation Share’ has grown well beyond its early, hip, millennial adopters. Now over 28% of the global adult population are participating, with 25% of Sharing Economy service providers being over 553. Participation rates of over 55s on some sharing sites has grown over 375% in the last year4 and adults aged 55-64 choosing renting, sharing and swapping over ownership has grown 80% in the last 12 years5. Millennials, may still form the largest group of sharers, but the Sharing Economy has certainly spread outside of it’s earlier demographic leanings.
What we know now, is that ‘Generation Share’ goes beyond age and increasingly, beyond economic background too. Rent, borrow, swap, exchange – these are the activities that epitomise this generation – and they’re all forms of sharing or accessing shared resources.
In this Sharing Economy era, you’re defined by what and how you share, sharing has become a lifestyle, a mind-set and increasingly, ‘Generation Share’ are changing the world as we know it.
We are witnessing the biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution; the people who share are those who know that access is more important than ownership, and that accumulating products that don’t get used and break is pointless, yes, but they know something much more powerful; they know that life is about meaning, about being connected, about belonging… above all, it’s about sharing. It’s about, Generation Share.
1 American Planning Association, 2014
2 Crowd Companies, 2014
3 PwC, 2015
5 Harvard University, 2015