The sharing economy and Web 2.0 : a consumer perspective
Abstract: The concept of the sharing economy has gained increased attention among academicresearch and practitioners alike. The sharing economy presents a shift from the traditionalcommerce way of business to a more collaborative sharing of resources. Companies suchas Uber, Airbnb and TaskRabbit have contributed to the raising popularity of sharingservices, by providing consumers with a platform to engage in peer-to-peer sharing. Inaddition, Web 2.0 has proven to be an essential factor in the rigorous growth of the sharingeconomy among consumers, by connecting them and enabling consumer engagement.Despite academic researchers devoting more attention to the sharing economy, there hasbeen a lack of research addressing specific influences that Web 2.0 has on the consumerin the sharing economy. In order to fill this gap, this research seeks to gain a deeper understanding of the consumerperspective by providing valuable insights into how Web 2.0 affects consumer behaviorwithin the sharing economy. Therefore, this research first aims to identify the aspects thatdrive consumers to consider the sharing economy as an alternative to traditional options.Following this, the research intends to uncover how both companies and peer consumersin the sharing economy attempt to influence potential consumers’ consideration of asharing option. Finally, it is equally important to highlight how participation and Web 2.0affects the outcomes. To fulfill this purpose, a qualitative study has been conducted among users of the sharingeconomy. The sample group for the semi-structured interviews was selected based ontheir shared characteristic of belonging to Generation Y and having used a sharing optionin the past. In order to add a degree of credibility to our findings, a product manager fromthe sharing economy shared comments and insights in regards to the data gathered duringthe interviews. Several themes were derived from the gathered data through the analysis and discussionin regards to the drivers, influencing factors and outcomes of the participation in thesharing economy. In terms of the drivers, the first theme is financial considerations, whoseimportance is dependent on the nature of the sharing option. The second theme is the needfor experience, which includes authentic and local experiences. Finally, the theme ofsecurity considerations is concerned with the perception of risk of participation in thesharing economy. Within the company influencing factors, the first theme of onlinemarketing is subjected to factors such as presentation and delivery which affect thecredibility of these activities. Meanwhile, the second theme of consumer referral systemsenjoys more credibility due to the overwhelming involvement of peers. On the other hand,influences by other consumers show the importance of trust in peers through eWOM,including reviews and recommendations, as part of the identified receiving consumerengagement theme. The final influencing factors are part of the third-party theme, whichincludes the importance of online news and pop culture as a source of awareness. Lastly,the identified themes in terms of outcomes after participating in the sharing economyrevolve around the change in concerns regarding risk and uncertainty, which affect thedegree of online trust. Finally, the creating consumer engagement theme shows that thequality of the sharing experience motivates the consideration to engage in eWOM and inturn become an advocate for sharing options.
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