«Our kids aren’t buying cars any more!» Consumer behaviour is changing. And with it, the behaviour of the economy. The consumer of the future pays for use, not ownership. Who actually owns the object is of secondary importance.
The parents move into a retirement home, but the daughter doesn’t want to take over the house. It’s Saturday evening, but the son doesn’t ask his dad whether he can borrow the car any more. Our offspring are no longer interested in what we own. The Millennial generation, born between 1980 and 2000, ticks differently.
The Millennials are going to change our economy. Consumers and producers are going to have to get used to it: goods will be shared and used collectively – there will be no aspiration to own them. Their parents saved a long time to afford larger acquisitions – Millennials use a product instantly and cheaply.
Drive a Porsche today and a Peugeot tomorrow
The concept of sharing is not new; indeed, it is the preferred way of consuming some goods such as books, laundrettes and public transport. The internet allows other, very different goods to be shared.
The potential is huge: in England and the United States, it is believed that some 80% of the objects we own are actually used less than once a month. And in an average household, every fourth object is suitable for sharing. This opens up tremendous utilisation and business opportunities.
These new consumers don’t particularly care about the notion of sharing or about community spirit. To them, haring means lower costs, instant access and a high degree of flexibility. Sharing the use of an object is more economical than owning it. And it has its own charms.
If you don’t own a car any more, then you could well be driving a Porsche today and a Peugeot tomorrow. The development of mobility will have a significant impact on town planning. If there are fewer cars, we can plan and build differently: fewer parking spaces, wider footpaths, more green spaces.
Democratic consumption, dependent consumers
One shared car can replace up to 30 vehicles. The outlook for traditional car manufacturers is not good. Realising this, BMW has launched its DriveNow platform. A customer can use a BMW car whenever they want to and park it again wherever they like. BMW aims to have over one million customers using its platform in Germany by 2020.
Sharing impacts the environment, too. Collaborative exchange is efficient and conserves scarce resources, but it also raises demand due to lower prices. The emergence of Uber has gone hand in hand with a rise in demand for taxi services. However, if companies own the products, they can manage them in a closed environment. And this would reduce costs and protect the environment.
The consumer of the future doesn’t care about ownership. The shift from owning to sharing is inevitable. Mobility, energy, living space and even financing can be shared at any time and made accessible over digital platforms in an immediate and transparent way.
Companies are developing new business models based on the notion of sharing. This is leading to a democratisation of consumption. At the same time, consumers are becoming more dependent on the new owners, i.e. the digital platforms and companies of the sharing economy.