The concept of Sharing is not new to India. The more you think about it, you will realise it has always been part of our DNA. I grew up listening to how my granddad shared his house with 3 families before partition. Fast forward to 2018 and my granddad is contemplating putting his spare room on Airbnb. It’s exciting how Sharing is caring has evolved into Sharing is Earning and I can’t think of a country better than India to take advantage of the $335 Billion sharing economy. The underlying principle of the Sharing economy is — Access beats ownership. Technology has been the backbone of this revolution and has made participating in the sharing economy easier than ever. From hailing a cab with the click of a button to booking your holiday home with an app swipe, Urban Indians have adapted themselves to the growing sharing economy. The rise of the sharing economy can be attributed to India’s demographic, purchasing power parity and being the second largest aspirational consumer base in the world.
Purchasing Experiences over ‘things’
In 70’s and 80’s a man’s prosperity was judged by his possessions — from the house he owned to the car he drove to the size of his closet — they all formed his identity in the society. However, the last two decades have seen a big shift in this mentality that can be attributed to the steep rise in standards of living coupled with an unequal increase in the purchasing power. Today, millennials, who are in their prime spending years, have different priorities than the earlier generations and are increasingly looking for ways to share and reduce costs. This has helped millennials gain access to their ideal lifestyles ranging from exotic homes to unlimited music to new cars — all accompanied by service levels which would not be possible with ownership. As a result, the millennials today might be spending more but are purchasing lesser than the older generations.
Frugal is the new cool
The slow rise in purchasing power has forced millennials to alter their consumption patterns. Millennials are increasingly becoming calculative and cautious of where they spend their hard-earned money. The concept of utility has been a prevalent question for millennials before making purchasing decisions. At the same time, Frugality (which was earlier associated with being stingy) is now associated with being smart and rational. In an age of instant delivery, Sharing economy appeals to the millennials as it lets them access products and services ‘on demand’ and relieves them of the responsibility and liability of ownership.
Sharing is the Future
When the sharing economy took off in the west, many critics slammed it as a fad or passing trend. However, with every passing year, we are seeing a behavioural shift towards sharing right from professional to private life. The hardbound office files have been replaced with google drive, private offices have been replaced with co-working spaces. Gone are the days when we store photo albums and scrapbooks. Millennials today are storing their data on the cloud via social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. While India has all the necessary ingredients to make it a sharing economy market leader, supportive and intelligent regulatory policies will play a prevalent role in shaping the adoption of the sharing economy. The coming decade will definitely see a significant reduction in ownership and it’s not far where we see sharing become the norm and ownership is an anomaly.
The author’s post first appeared on NewsBaron website.