We get in the car with strangers. We sleep in the beds of people we’ve never met. Weren’t we listening to anything our mothers told us?
The social acceptance of consumer-to-consumer transactions has allowed Lyft, Uber, Airbnb, HomeAway, CouchSurfing, by-owner timeshare resales and rentals, and countless other sharing economy initiatives to flourish. Like any business direction that succeeds, the collective consumption business model evolved to provide product and service convenience or price points that traditional companies were failing to offer or undeserving.
Of course, technology and social media/social sharing have been critical keys to the success of the sharing economy. But the fact that the concept works isn’t nearly as remarkable as the fact that it works in a time when people profess to be ultra-focused on issues of online trust, transparency, and privacy.
The Important Online Marketing Insight the Collective Consumption Culture Exposes
Book lodging through an online consumer-to-consumer platform and you are trusting that the accommodations will be available as promised. You are counting on a room that is sufficiently clean, a toilet that flushes, and a door lock that prevents the property owner from stealing your laptop or suffocating you with a pillow.
And you make your decision why? Because other strangers posted stars, ⭐ likes, ? and smiley faces ? on the private rental website assuring you that the gaping unknown is a better choice for your needs than a hotel you know and trust.
But that can’t be the whole story.
Trust, Transparency, and Privacy
A collective consumption economy works because consumers are willing to exchange private information and even become personally vulnerable in order to gain a price or a feature they desire.
For every business that engages with its marketplace online, the appeal or value of the offer the business makes must exceed any perceived negatives the consumer sees in it. When sellers –regardless of whether they are businesses or individuals—make an offer, the benefits of the deal must exceed both the benefits offered by their competitors and any drawbacks inherent in the offer itself.
At this very moment, thousands of people are opting-in to online offers. They are agreeing to “be marketed to” via email, text, and other digital technologies because they want the offer the seller is extending—even if it means surrendering aspects of their privacy, dealing with more email, and receiving offers from “affiliated companies”.
We all value trust, transparency, and privacy. And almost every single one of us, including your prospective clients and customers, is willing to trade some or all of it for an offer or a deal that we find simply too good to pass up.