The sharing economy and human behavior

2015-03-21 2 min read

    The sharing/rental economy is getting stronger and stronger and will have a massive impact on societies - especially cities. One thing that’s been on my mind is how it will fit into human behavior and biases. We’re so used to making infrequent or one time payments and then owning something that moving to a rental or sharing model might be difficult. For example, I don’t own a car and mostly rely on a combination of public transportation and CitIBike to get around. The rare times I need a car I’ll use either Zipcar, Hertz 24/7, Lyft or Uber depending on my exact situation yet each time I make the decision I can’t help but think about the cost. I realize that in the grand scheme of things it’s much cheaper than owning a car but during the moment itself it’s draining. It’s similar to the of unbundling TV - it’s much cheaper to just pay a dollar per episode to watch a TV show than pay more than $100 each month for cable but do people actually want to be thinking about spending the dollar each time? I suspect most would rather pay the premium for the entire bundle and the option of watching anything instead of feeling as if they’re being nickeled and dimed. I have no idea whether this is innate in human behavior or something that we’ve just grown accustomed to. I suspect it’s the latter - there are countless items we pay for individually and don’t think twice about it. What will make the sharing economy universal is when we start treating the majority of our purchases as per use rather than a lifetime subscription.