The “sharing economy” is everywhere today. We see it in the form of multi-billion-dollar companies like Uber and Airbnb, and more and more in sprouting start-ups.
It’s a new term—coined only within the last decade or so—but it’s taken off dramatically. Now the sharing economy has disrupted a myriad of industries, including finance (crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending) and agriculture (garden sharing and seed swaps).
The sharing economy as its own entity is a big sector, one that is expected to generate revenues of over $15 billion this year, according to professional services firm PwC, which collaborated on a report produced by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, and grow to $335 billion by 2025. As many as 40% of Canadians aged 18 to 34 are now sharing economy consumers.
In Canada, there are numerous sharing economy companies. For food, there is MealSurfers – it’s a marketplace where hungry people can order homemade meals from experienced cooks nearby – yum! For transportation, there is Sharethebus – it’s a place to create and share custom charter bus trips across North America, making the journey just as fun as the destination. And for vacations, there is Luxury Retreats – a collection of 2,800 luxury properties, each hand-picked and personally inspected to make sure their guests get the most out of their much-needed downtime.
Even those companies who do not participate in the sharing economy directly are now looking to add value for customers by tapping into this increasingly collaborative way of doing things. For example, Public Mobile has ditched brick-and-mortar service shops for an online platform that transforms customer service from a one-on-one channel to an open community, where users can get and give help, as well as share their thoughts. It’s becoming a more common tactic because it not only empowers consumers, but also saves costs for companies, so they can invest more into better products and services.
Canadians are resourceful, inventive, and innovative. It seems natural that we would be eager users of the sharing economy and its byproducts—and we are. We’re ready to engage in the next-generation of collaborating and expect more of the companies that serve us. As we should. And companies like MealSurfers, Sharethebus, Luxury Retreats and Public Mobile appear ready to deliver on this new promise.