Did you know that if you own a power drill you are likely to use it for only 13 minutes in its lifetime? Or that your vehicle probably sits idle for 23 hours a day?
That’s the definition of “idling capacity”—many of the products in our lives simply sit idle and unused.
But according to Terry O’Reilly on CBC’s Under the Influence (one of my must-listen branding podcasts) that alone isn’t enough to drive people to a sharing economy. There were two more recent events that are starting a big shift in how consumers spend.
- The recession of 2008. Job insecurity and fear of making big, expensive purchases changed people’s behaviour.
- The demographic impact. The Millennial generation, born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, are a larger group than the baby boomers. And by 2030, they will make up 75 per cent of the buying public globally.
Millennials have been conditioned by the Great Recession to shed the responsibility of ownership. They want the music, but not the CD. They want the ride, but not the car. That attitude has an enormous impact on marketers, as the biggest consumer demographic in history would rather share than buy.
I would add that this isn’t just a shift with Millennials, but with all consumers. There are lots of people in every demographic who would rather share than buy. The difference is when innovative companies (Under The Influence gives lots of examples) provide websites and apps that make sharing convenient, affordable and accessible.
What does this mean for small business?
Change isn’t bad—especially for entrepreneurs who are nimble, smart and can make changes much faster than large corporations. Sure, there may be fewer automobiles sold—but it won’t lessen the need for transportation. Travel and tourism will continue to grow as Millennials look to spend their money on experiences instead of stuff. With change comes opportunity—especially for small business.