Ownership used to be an essential part of the American Dream. Own your home, car—even the phrase, “Own It!” carries a certain flair of control and moxie that simply cannot be denied. But, if the past few years are any indication, owning is out and sharing is in. Welcome to the sharing economy, a new model—or actually a harkening back to shared ownership and experience that bonded the so-called greatest generation of Great Depression-World War II babies.
Where branding once stood as the penultimate niche—the moniker of ownership, Millennials and not-so-Millennial’s alike see the inherent value and cost-savings from sharing experiences and products rather than owning brands. The appeal of this phenomena appeals to every demographic within the economic spectrum.
Main stream chic? Consider mass market retailer Target and their collaboration with some of the hottest designers in fashion—Isaac Mizrahi and Jason Wu to name a few. But tread lightly, Target’s partnership with well-heeled Neiman-Marcus was risky, mostly unsuccessful—and taught retailers and fashionistas alike some valuable lessons, the first and foremost that price and demographics matter regardless of brand.
High-end retailer Nordstrom did it right. They know their customer’s preferences and, as it turns out, what their customers’ outlook is on the world and their role in the social agenda. Nordstrom partnered with Toms shoes to inspire its customers to design new Toms. Nordstrom inspired its customers both to express their creativity through shoe design, and to feel good about being part of a larger, meaningful humanitarian initiative.
Sharing takes a new form in the shapes of Airbnb, Uber, TaskRabbit and more—the so-called gig economy—a close cousin of the sharing economy—proves to be the antithesis of branding. Don’t pigeonhole and instead reimagine a collective experience with what you already own. Allow others to view your home, your car and your skills to mold their own experiences.
Just like your mother taught you to share, here are some “play nice” rules for success in the sharing economy:
Ground Rules for Sharing:
- Know the price points of your target consumers. Know them both well.
- Understand the experience must be on par with the product.
- Don’t pigeonhole. Instead reimagine a collective experience with what you already own.