January 7, 2013
‘Collaborative Consumption’s’ Rachel Botsman on our trend Peer Power
One of our 10 Trends for 2013 focuses on the peer-to-peer marketplace, forecasting that as it expands in size and scope—moving beyond goods to a wide range of services—it will increasingly upend major industries, including hospitality and transportation. With her 2010 book, What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption (co-written with Roo Rogers), Rachel Botsman was one of the first to delve into this phenomenon, looking beyond P2P businesses to examine the rise of all “organized sharing, bartering, trading, renting, swapping, and collectives.” When the book was published, Botsman talked to us about what this mega-trend meant for brands and marketers; we featured her insights, still highly relevant, in a two-part Q&A (click here for Part 1 and here for Part 2).
Last month we asked Sydney-based Botsman, who runs the Collaborative Consumption website, for some thoughts on the rising importance of the P2P marketplace. In an email exchange, she suggested it’s having a “massive” effect on the global economy:
We are just in the nascent stages of the disruption from top-down, centralized structures to highly distributed marketplaces where people can trade directly with one another. This shift is what network technologies inherently want to do. Whether it’s social, mobile or location (or a convergence of all three), they basically collapse the costs for us to create, share, produce and trade directly with one another.
As far as which categories will be most affected, Botsman feels that “any industry with a middleman or process that can easily be made redundant by technologies is at risk.” Thus far, the “biggest disruption” is by Airbnb to the hotel industry: “By the end of , they will be filling more rooms per night than Hilton. That is serious disruption.” Botsman, who gave a TED talk titled “The currency of the new economy is trust” last June, says trust is a key factor determining which industries are impacted:
It’s also interesting to see industries where there is a breakdown in traditional trust—whether that’s in specific brands or in the sector as a whole—get upended by peer-to-peer trust. Banking and personal loans are a great example. The likes of Zopa and Lending Club are set to issue more than 2 billion in personal loans by the end of 2012. In the U.K., peer-to-peer lending has already taken 1–2 percent of the personal loans market. A different type of P2P financing is happening on the likes of Pave and Kickstarter, but they are part of the same disruption. I think it’s part of a massive shift of industries becoming more human again through technology.
Finally, Botsman sees education as a key sector that’s “on the verge of being upended,” with the advent of online options like Coursera, Udemy, Skillshare, Codeacademy and Khan Academy. “The way we learn,” she says, “will be completely democratized by peer-to-peer channels.”
For another viewpoint, check back on Wednesday to read our Q&A with Lisa Gansky, author of a similarly themed book, The Mesh: Why the Future of Business Is Sharing.