Brits lag behind world for ‘sharing economy’


Over a third (37%) of British consumers online are willing to take advantage of the growing phenomenon of the “sharing economy” in which people use specialist websites to rent out assets they own, according to a new study by Nielsen.

Also known as peer-to-peer rental, the sharing economy – whose profile has been raised by enterprises such as property rental site Airbnb – enables people to capitalise on the unused capacity of personal assets, such as homes, cars or sports equipment, by renting them out to fellow consumers for income.

The Nielsen Global Survey of Share Communities, which polled more than 30,000 Internet respondents in 60 countries, shows that despite the desire of 37% of Britons to embrace the phenomenon, they trail the 54% of Europeans and 68% of people globally who would do the same.

Within Europe, southern countries tend to be the most willing to use the sharing economy, ahead of northern and eastern Europe, while western countries tend to be the least willing to participate.


E.g. 68% of global respondents are willing to rent out their own items to others for payment

“The sharing economy’s rise in popularity is due to a mix of three factors,” says Nielsen group managing director for UK & Ireland Chris Morley. “A new wave of internet entrepreneurs; people’s increasing comfort at sharing more of their lives online; and the increasing need to earn or save money because of wider financial pressures. In effect, these leading entrepreneurs are enabling everyone else to become micro-entrepreneurs by making regular money from assets they already own.”

Who and what makes up the sharing economy?

While men and women in the UK are equally likely to rent out their personal items, women are a little more reluctant to rent from others. The willingness to do so decreases with age – 56% of people under 30 are willing, compared to just 13% of people over 60.

The most popular assets likely to be offered are: services/lessons (by 19% of people willing to participate), power tools (by 17%) and cars (16%). One in nine (11%) are willing to rent out their home.


E.g. 37% of UK male respondents are willing to rent out their own items to others for payment

“The act of renting from peers rather than buying or hiring from companies is giving rise to an economic revolution that may have a big impact on traditional businesses,” continues Morley. “Forbes estimated that $3.5 billion went directly into people’s wallets last year via the shared economy, with growth exceeding 25%. As a result, hotel and taxi companies in major US cities are already legally challenging shared economy services.

“Smart companies will harness the advantages of sharing services into their own products and services. Car manufacturers such as Volkswagen and General Motors have invested in car-sharing apps; the idea being, the more you get a ride in their cars, the more likely you’ll be to buy one in the future.”

Morley concludes: “Consumers are becoming savvier about saving money at a time when the internet has facilitated greater opportunities to rent products. The take-up of music- and film-streaming services such as Spotify and Netflix is testament to this. The sharing economy is the evolution of this ‘pay-as-you-go’ mind-set: why buy something I may only use a handful of times, when renting allows me to save money and storage space.”

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