5 Marketing Lessons From The Sharing Economy

marketing lessons sharing economyThe sharing economy, simply put, is the phenomenon where people are increasingly willing to share their home, car, clothing, goods, services—almost anything—online.

It’s having a major disruptive influence on the way business works today.  New consumer-driven businesses are cropping up quickly and taking a significant share of revenue from traditional counterparts. Just look at the hotel industry—it’s taking a hit from Airbnb.

Sharing sites like Peerby are driving a whole new commerce engine where people share anything from tools to evening dresses. And in the transportation industry, change is happening fast with companies like Uber and Lyft crowdsourcing public transportation in cities around the world.

The sharing economy has allowed new multi-million dollar businesses to grow seemingly overnight. So, how can traditional businesses leverage the sharing trend? Here are five lessons you can use to lean into—and learn from—the new sharing economy.

1. Co-create  Working in a collaborative way with customers can bring in outside perspectives and fresh ideas. One of my favorite examples is the Starbucks program where customers can nominate a new coffee.  This is a great example of using crowdsourcing to drive product innovation while encouraging customer participation. Tech companies often use open-source platforms to drive innovation and participation. Co-creation is a powerful brand tool in the sharing economy. When consumers become co-creators in a brand experience, they are more likely to buy into the brand.

2. Build Trust  Trust is the currency of the sharing economy.  Use customer reviews and community-building strategies to develop authority and trust with your customers. The sharing economy requires people to put their trust in complete strangers. Marketers can leverage social proof and peer reviews to build trust and loyalty with customers at a grass roots level.

3. Integrate Social  Social integration is becoming the most important element of brand discovery and engagement.   Building an enaged network of brand advocates takes work.   Make every brand experience a social one where customers can engage, share, communicate.

4. Build A Great Website. Take a few pointers from the best sharing economy websites.    Peer reviews, simplified navigation, local information, and the use of maps, imagery and video make these sites engaging experiences. Easy access to products and service is the hallmark of the sharing economy. Corporate websites tend to be overly complex and difficult to use.  The best brands are focusing on delivering value instead of just selling.

5. Microtarget Communities The sharing economy is hyper-local; it builds business through community awareness. Larger companies often don’t spend time on the type of community engagement that is the hallmark of sharing economy brands. Take the time to seed your brand story in your neighborhood and develop brand-building campaigns in targeted communities.

The sharing economy is a huge threat to many businesses today. But it also presents a tremendous opportunity for leaders and visionary companies who are ready to build new innovative business models that lean into this new economy.  How are you tapping into the sharing economy? Start by sharing your story here.

This post originally appeared on Digital Age of Marketing.

Tami Cannizzaro is Head of Marketing at eBay where she drives a global demand generation program. She is an advocate for business transformation in today’s digital, mobile, social customer-centric economy. Follow me on Twitter @Tamicann.

5 thoughts on “5 Marketing Lessons From The Sharing Economy

  1. The sharing economy opens another opportunity for business-minded individuals. Thanks for the points you shared. I agree, creating a website and establishing presence on social media will contribute a lot in this type of business.

    1. That’s right and yet still have to make the argument to some. I think we’ll see an amazing change in the next few years as the traditional brand-centric approach becomes more obviously flawed and customer-centricity paves the way to success.

  2. great article, but those 5 marketing lessons have been around for quite a while, – even before the sharing economy stole the picture and forced companies to focus even more on social and online marketing ?

    1. Totally agree Lone. Now the digital, social, mobile revolution is making them even more important. One debate I love to have with CMOs: Has marketing changed or is it the same old techniques just in a different context? What do you think?

  3. I would argue it’s a major shift in how we market. Many of the traditional brands are still giving lip service to digital, social, brand influencer marketing while the bulk of the spend is still allocated to media spend.

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