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Millennials and Consumer Behavior Change

Various studies and articles have been published in an attempt to identify and label the attributes of the generation called Millennials also known as Generation Y. In TIME Magazine’s May cover story entitled, “The Me Me Me Generation”, they were characterized as lazy, narcissistic and possibly delusional. In contrast, The Atlantic depicted them, in “The Cheapest Generation”, as exhibiting a quirky eco-­consciousness that favors access over ownership.

According to car manufacturers FORD and General Motors, today’s youth don’t care about owning a car despite dealers’ efforts to generate sales. Earlier this week, Kelly Ripa announced on Live! with Kelly and Michael that her son Michael, who just turned 16 years old, was puzzled by family friends inquiring if he got a new car. Since WWII, spending on new cars and housing has historically enabled our economy to thrive. But according to recent reports the demand for drivers licenses by teenagers has significantly dropped. This generation is more interested in having owning a smartphone to stay connected, than the burden of a vehicle with ever increasing fuel costs. As millennials become increasingly car-averse, this shift offers the opportunity to introduce more sustainable options.

Millennials are the most environmentally engaged generation with about two-thirds in agreement that global warming is real and another 43% blame human activity for the extent of this growing problem. Given these traits in combination with their desire to reform our society they provide a pivotal role in helping the world face critical social and economic challenges.  

While Baby Boomers tend to choose a top down approach, millennials prefer community-based or grassroots engagement from the bottom up. The millennial generation is hyper-informed, and while some may exhibit an imbalance between their education level and actual field experience they are willing to create change and tackle the world’s problems. The Internet Age has primed millennials for activism as they are hyper-connected, civic-minded and socially engaged on forums and commenting platforms where they readily share and explore ideas.

Armed with fresh ideas and the technology to create an audience, this generation has adopted new tools, technology and crowdsourcing methods to generate awareness, advocates and funding. Through these innovative collaborations, transformative ideas will evolve to help solve tough global challenges. These so-called narcissistic traits may actually make possible the generational shifts to align the desires of consumers with the new systems and processes that must be developed for future generations to thrive.


Image Source: bcg perspectives

By Tamar Burton

See Also:

The Next Industrial Revolution

Just TRADE It!

Climate Change: What is Real, Happening and Expected

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Can the Sharing Economy Cross to the Mainstream?

Following years of consumerism, technology has offered new interpretations of ownership. Competitive services touting the benefits of “sharing” and “access over ownership” have gained ground as viable alternatives. Consumers have revisited past generations’ routines of sharing, swapping, lending, and bartering. Businesses are allowing access to both tangible items and less tangible assets of space and skills. Sharing services are progressively gaining traction in densely populated areas. However, the question remains as to whether they can cross to the mainstream and gain massive adoption?

Enacting consumer behavior change is a challenging endeavor. In a recent review of consumer behavior change, psychologists Wendy Wood and David Neal suggest that consumers often “act like creatures of habit, automatically repeating past behavior with little regard to current goals and valued outcomes.”

In contrast to ownership, the sharing economy while founded on the concepts of community and sharing, attempts to find value through financial savings for consumers. Like the sharing economy, sustainability initiatives are focused on advancing social equity. Both sustainability and the sharing economy minimize waste, optimize the allocation of resources and reduce carbon emissions with communities. When considering their adoption, however, it seems to come down to the intent and behavior of the individual.

Recent findings suggest that pro-environmental campaigns emphasizing financial savings (self-interested) over protecting the environment (self-transcending) have generally been ineffective. Although advocates promoted financial benefits in order to accelerate adoption of eco-friendly behaviors (i.e., saving energy results in lower bills), researchers Thogersen and Crompton found that financial incentives may make people less likely to carry out environmental actions in general. Self-interested values, such as economic welfare, wealth and power were found to be in conflict with the self-transcending values of protecting the environment.

Another study, conducted by researchers Fowler and Christakis, reveals that acts of kindness and generosity travel in social networks up to three degrees of separation. They believe that “cooperative behavior cascades in human social networks” and that “there is a deep and fundamental connection between social networks and goodness.” They added that “groups with altruists in them will be more likely to survive than selfish groups.”

The resounding message of the sharing economy is that it fosters relationships and builds communities. So far, it has focused primarily on the self-interested values of saving money and making money from the idle resources in order to appeal to consumers. The sharing economy should incorporate self-transcending values such as sustainability and goodness to its core message in order to achieve behavior change and cross to the mainstream. 


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Sustainability and the Sharing Economy

“The sharing economy is not motivated by environmental benefits”. This is the result of a recent survey by professors from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of South Carolina. According to their findings, the most important reasons why people share are financial constraints and convenience. Therefore the study suggests that companies looking to win over new customers should emphasize monetary benefits instead of sustainability in their marketing. This statement is yet another sign that the role of sustainability is currently not being sufficiently acknowledged in the collaborative consumption discussion. But I think it should. Here’s why: 

Sustainable development, as defined by the United Nations, is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Being on the agenda of many governments, NGOs and corporations, sustainability is a larger and more mainstream concept than collaborative consumption. Apart from the fact that “going green” has gained broad acceptance among consumers, most governments and companies put a large amount of resources towards meeting specific sustainability goals such as CO2 reduction. Thus in comparison to the attention sustainability has received in the last decade, the sharing economy is still a small phenomenon. 

As sharing economy advocate Rachel Botsman points out in her book “What’s mine is yours”, collaborative consumption has the potential to help achieve sustainability goals by reducing waste and pollution as well as extending the life-cycles of products. Transactions between individuals that were inconvenient in the pre-internet age are becoming worthwhile again thanks to the coordination through modern technology. For instance, instead of throwing away your clutter or laboriously trying to resell or re-gift used objects offline, online platforms make it easy to distribute goods to where they are most needed. In other words, acting sustainably has become a lot simpler. 

But how large is the environmental impact of the sharing economy really? Although it is still too early to assess the long term benefits of the sharing economy, there have been attempts to measure the positive impact of individual applications such as carsharing. It is estimated, for instance, that every shared car replaces nine to 13 owned ones. As 20% of total U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions are produced by personal vehicles, car and ridesharing platforms could significantly contribute to CO2 reduction.

Most consumers may merely see these benefits as a ‘nice side-effect’. However since the sharing economy could significantly contribute to a sustainable future, it is imaginable that global players involved in the sustainability debate will find exactly this aspect most interesting. Therefore in contrast to the above findings that collaborative marketplaces should not advertise with environmental benefits, I believe that the sharing economy can profit from associating with sustainability. This may give it the attention it needs to reach the next level. 

Guest Blogger: Francesca Pick


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Trust in P2P Transactions

Trust is the foundation of all economic transactions, in the real world and on the Web. The crucial difference between the two is that in the real world, we have ways of judging whether our counterpart is trustworthy, whereas on the Web, we usually transact with people we have never met. Especially in the growing sector of peer-to-peer (P2P) platforms, users share very valuable assets such as houses and cars, exposing them to higher risk than in classic e-commerce. According to a recent study by Campbell Mithun, trust concerns are the number one barrier to sharing on collaborative consumption platforms. This indicates that as the sharing economy grows, a foundation of trust between users is necessary to lower their perceived risk of participating in P2P marketplaces. 

I investigated this topic further in my bachelor thesis titled Building Trust in P2P Marketplaces: an Empirical Analysis of Trust Systems for the Sharing Economy. I received many interesting insights by interviewing people from across the globe such as researchers, social innovators, P2P platforms as well as startups attempting to create online trust systems. 

A number of tools that help users judge each other’s trustworthiness online already exists. Five-star rating systems as popularized by eBay are a very common type of feedback system. These ratings are often accompanied by user comments and reviews to provide descriptive information about a transaction. On platforms such as Taskrabbit, identity verification by phone and email as well as background checks are tools used to ensure safety. Further tools that verify identities and let users tap into their existing social networks when joining a new site are social media connect buttons (for example Facebook Connect). Several startups such as TrustCloud, Briiefly, Legit and PeerTrust are attempting to merge these tools into one trust system that allows users to take their online reputation with them wherever they go. 

Apart from these tools my findings suggest that online communities can also foster trust. According to an interviewee, tight-knit communities of people with similar interests, tastes and values can function as a type of trust system. This is the case at the German ridesharing company, where most users have in common that they are current or former students. 

Guest Blogger: Francesca Pick 

Francesca studied Communication and Cultural Management at Zeppelin University in Friedrichshafen, Germany. To read more of her research, please visit the full thesis.


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Are Yard Sales Losing their Curb Appeal?

Spring is the season for enjoying the outdoors and sharing with friends and family. Yet one of our nation’s past times is now under scrutiny. A growing issue for municipalities is the increasing complaints received from neighbors of yard sales gone to the extreme. Imagine living near neighbors offering appliances and cars on their lawns. This was the focus of a recent story spurring a sharp debate with more than 400 comments to date. In Delano, Calif., the city has declared a ‘yard sale showdown’ following numerous complaints received from residents of citizens operating business from their homes. 

When thinking of a yard sale, what comes to mind is the additional traffic and visitors entering the neighborhoods in search for bargains. For some, this is welcome as their goal is to share with their neighbors while generating funds from items no longer used. The issue at hand is that many of these so-called yard sales are de facto illegally operating storefronts. For yard sales of the extreme form, it seems a few are ruining it for everyone else.  

"While yard sales provide a great way to re-commerce, they vary by the location and are as unique as each city’s demographic," said Mollie Loeffler, President of the Parklawn Civic Association in Alexandria, VA. "In extreme cases, it is unfortunate when municipalities must take action in order to protect citizens from code compliance issues."

Some of the cities that have enacted restrictions and permit fees are detailed by this recent BusinessWeek article. While the limits vary, cities such as San Angelo, Tx., Phenix City, Ala., and Ontario, Calif., allow for no more than two yard sales per year, yet others including Elkhart, Indiana, allow up to 15 a year. As for fees, in South Greensburg, Pa., citizens must pay a $5 permit fee, while in Miami, Fla., it is as high as $28.

In retrospect, yard sales are a lot of work. From applying and paying for permits, to organizing and pricing items, to driving foot traffic and hopefully making sales, physical garage sales involve too much friction. Tradepal’s peer-to-peer marketplace offers a solution for both municipalities, as well as the weekend garage gal who is planning to move or just wants to de-clutter. The difference is, it doesn’t require a permit or any cash outlay at all. Another benefit is each item can be listed with images in less than a minute. Once all the items are listed, all you do is share the link to your ‘Tradepal virtual garage sale' with your social network. And as simple as that, the offers will start rolling in.

Listing an item is done in less than a minute on Tradepal. For example, type ‘iPhone 3G’ and tradepal will serve you relevant options to choose from to complete your listings in one-click. For books or games, just enter the ISBN number, and the system will automatically upload your listing. If you were planning to move, this service is a great option as you can even list giveaways. The options are endless.


Additional Reading:

Online Marketplace Comparison: eBay vs Craigslist vs Tradepal

Did You Know You Harbored $7,000 in Unused Items

Are Yard Sales Losing Their Curb Appeal?

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Online Marketplace Comparison: eBay Vs. Craigslist Vs. Tradepal

While relocating can be a chore, offering items no longer needed can be fun and rewarding when you know you helped someone. I recently completed the slow and tedious process of selling and giving away household items. One of the larger items I decided to sell was my car which I listed on eBay, Craigslist and Tradepal.  

The process of creating an online vehicle listing was a first, so I followed my checklist to make sure I had everything covered. I reviewed various websites to view how many cars of the same model were being offered and also searched car pricing guides such as the Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds. I also spoke to my car dealer to review the title transfer process and any hidden fees associated. Lastly, I took a bunch of pictures of my vehicle using my smartphone and prepared to create the three listings. 

The process went as follows:


Time Elapsed: 40 minutes to list item with images

Cost: Free for my local neighborhood, additional fees would apply for a national listing.

Results: My Kia listing was removed by eBay and, to my surprise, I received an email notification that I had violated their terms of use. See email below. 

After reviewing the information, and feeling quite perplexed that I violated something, I contacted eBay. I explained the problem to one of their representatives which was followed by a short hold then a series of personal questions that were intended to verify my identity. The monotone agent seemed familiar with my issue as she went through the routine of troubleshooting my problem. 

While still confused I confirmed my education level, where I have worked, and what certifications I have. Finally, I was directed to log back into the eBay website to relist my vehicle. Needless to say, I was a bit aggravated having spent over an hour listing, responding to a delisting email, speaking with two representatives and taking a test to ultimately confirm my identity in order to list my own car for sale. I inquired as to what I actually violated by my vehicle listing, and received a vague explanation that it was because I was a new user. A new user? While not feeling very welcome, I proceeded to relist my vehicle as I had so much time invested at this juncture. 

Auto reinstatement email:


Time Elapsed:  Approximately 10 minutes to list an item with one image. 

Cost: Free 

Results: Followed their standard email verification process as shown below. I was approved to go live and received about six inquiries on the vehicle. The details that follow explain the care needed when using this service as is evident in the initial verification email below that follows each listing request.

Unfortunately, one of the inquiries I received three days later was from Root Ninja although it stated Kamari True as the contact name. UnknowingIy I was being lured, and I almost clicked the link provided which could have been disastrous had I not realized it in time.  

Following a search using the sentence in the email, it was evident that I had been sent a malicious email from Root Ninja which was identified as follows:

In addition, I felt uneasy about providing my location and my cell phone number to prospective anonymous buyers who emailed me.


Time Elapsed:  Four minutes to list including four images of the vehicle.

Cost: Free to list and share with no geographical restrictions.

Results: I shared the listing with my Tradepal and Facebook friends, and Twitter followers. Within the first ten minutes, I garnered over 100 views. Within the next 24 hours, the listing had generated over 400 views.

As the head of brand development at tradepal, I tend to think I am biased. But this experience is a reminder of the real pain encountered by the general public while using online marketplaces such as eBay and Craigslist. At tradepal, we are striving to solve these exact problems. Users should be able to list, share and promote their items quickly and for free. Most importantly, they should be able to communicate and trade with peers in confidence. 

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Spring Cleaning Tips for Procrastinators

Just in case you have been procrastinating on your spring cleaning, ButtonedUp has created a list to assist you and offers advice on hosting a virtual yard sale. While Tradepal provides a great service when de-cluttering, it is also useful when:

  • moving
  • selling art 
  • reducing your fashion collection
  • upgrading to the latest electronics
  • reducing your collection of videos
  • trading baby items, and much more

The best features include the ability to list a variety of items, share them with connections who, by the way, use their ‘real identities’, and this process requires only a minute from loading the image to completing the listing. Yes, only a minute!

As varied as the items offered by each user, are the variety of ways for users to transact. While the traditional buy and sell transaction is one option, users may also offer giveaways. For users seeking a trade, they may barter for items by selecting Make Offer to entertain a trade for items listed within their tradepal profile, or maybe a trade plus cash. It’s up to the two parties to decide and the transaction is done privately via their tradepal dashboards.

To read the list, visit ButtonedUp offers 10 easy spring-cleaning shortcuts

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Happy Easter from Bunny Pal Gummy

Wishing our pal’s, their families and friends a great weekend as they observe the holiday.

- The Tradepal Team


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A Wrap-up of SxSWi 2012 by the Tradepal Team


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Moving Sale Tale On Tradepal

As I am preparing to move Tradepal to San Francisco, I also have to manage my personal move. I have to deal with furniture, utilities, contracts, apartments, leases, cars, bank accounts, etc. 

For my moving sale, I decided to exclusively list my furniture and electronics here on Tradepal. It took about 30 minutes to list all the items, and while I am writing this post, the first transaction went through: $450 straight to my paypal account. Keep’em coming!

And now off to St Patty’s celebrations!

Karim Guessous

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Convergence of Art and Collaborative Consumption: Artist Brian Ermanski

Patronage has always been central to the art world. In the same way, the concept of artists trading their work for various core needs continues to be relevant today. It is safe to say that artists, as a group, epitomize collaborative consumption.

It is recorded that Andy Warhol provided the Chelsea Hotel with art in exchange for rent. And since Burning Man’s early beginnings in 1986, the annual week long event has fostered the creation of art, community and extreme self-reliance, while prohibiting the use of currency in favor of  barter. More recently, in 2005 graffiti artist David Choe traded murals commissioned for Facebook’s offices in Palo Alto in exchange for Facebook stock. Now standing to join the art elite, his stock is currently valued at $200 million.

These examples of collaborative consumption are nothing new to New York City artist, Brian Ermanski. As the focus of Paul Stone’s short film The Prince of Elizabeth Street, Ermanski reflects on his evolution as an artist. His art has allowed him to build his brand while holding up shop, painting on the corner of Prince and Elizabeth street. Following an assault by a bouncer in 2006, he was left with chronic pain and numbness for years. To support himself, Ermanski slowly sold off all his possessions outside his New York City building and kept only his paintings which he now sells for up to $10,000.

With a new perspective on life he continued his recovery and struggled to return to art. In late 2007, a friend offered him housing in exchange for paintings. This offer turned into two years of housing while additional offers rolled in, including exhibit spaces in exchange for art. He even scored an iPad by trading a painting a little over a year ago. My art is my currency,” says Ermanski. The same form of currency has made it possible for him to get access to a 2,000-square-foot loft in Tribeca to work on his canvases and store his art collection.

In December, 2011 after dreaming for six long years of the opportunity to showcase his artwork during Art Basel Miami, it became a reality. “Friend and fashion designer, Duncan Quinn, offered me space in his boutique and sponsorships to exhibit my art,” says Ermanski. He was in good company, located in The Moore Building and adjacent to Christian Dior’s first-ever pop-up shop in the heart of Miami’s design district. “A very high-profile place to show and that is where my journey has led me,” adds Ermanski. “Duncan even traded me a handmade suit I designed, for a painting he wanted made.”

Ermanski credits various people and opportunities with furthering his growth and survival as an artist. A proponent of incorporating barter and trade, Ermanski’s latest initiative is his profile on Tradepal. Having embraced collaborative consumption early on, Tradepal allows artists to host their collections online and enables them to seamlessly sell and trade within the platform. “With Tradepal, I have a virtual gallery where I am not only connected to all my collectors but also their friends which allows me to build my own distribution channel,” says Ermanski.

With art patrons spanning well beyond Nolita, his admirers remain on notice as part of his personal network while engaging new friends who have also discovered him and his art. The power of collaborative consumption symbolizes artists like Brian Ermanski who have sustained themselves by trading skills in exchange for life’s necessities. Through Tradepal, users create a free profile and become members of a trusted community reaching beyond their circle to discover, share, buy, sell and trade.

“It is powerful to know that each time I list new pieces, my network on Tradepal will automatically be notified,” says Ermanski.

Source Huffington Post

Brian Ermanski’s Profile on Tradepal

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7 Ways to Take Your Leap Day into the Sharing Economy

On February 29th we celebrate a once-every-four-year event as we get an extra day added to our 365 day calendar year. In honor of Leap Day, why not celebrate this ‘extra day’ by taking a leap into collaborative consumption and adopting a new way to help others, help the environment or just help ourselves?
If you are planning to attend SxSW, then you may already be using a peer-to-peer service like Airbnb, Zipcar, or carpooling to the many events? If so, then you are part of what everyone is talking about. Just two years ago it was viewed as a thing of the future, but collaborative consumption has bypassed its trendy status and has become mainstream.

If you aren’t heading to Austin, Texas, then here are some ways to take a leap and participate:

  1. Do you listen to music online? If you use Spotify and share it with your friends on Facebook, you are driving collaboration as you help others to discover new music.
  2. Have you borrowed a ladder, drill or other tools from a neighbor?  This is also driving the collaborative consumption movement and includes such websites as NeighborGoods to connect people who share.
  3. Feeling charitable? How about helping to fight poverty by providing as little as a $25 microloan through Kiva? You could help a farmer in Nicaragua buy fertilizer and supplies for his crops.
  4. Doing some spring cleaning or planning on moving? Try the latest peer-to-peer marketplace, Tradepal and list some items to giveaway, sell or even barter for something else.
  5. Concerned about the environment? Then join a local bicycle sharing program and start reducing your carbon footprint.
  6. Want to brush up on some skills?  Locate a Skillshare in your community to attend free workshops offered by your neighbors, or maybe offer to train others.
  7. Interested in purchasing organic and high quality food? Support your local farmers and farmers markets while encouraging sustainable agriculture practices that enhance our environment. 

While I narrowed the list to only a weeks worth of options, I could have listed many more. With 1,460 days until the arrival of the next Leap Year in 2016, imagine how our communities would benefit if we made collaborative consumption a habit for the next four years. 

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Tradepal is Now on Pinterest


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Happy Presidents’ Day

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From Sharing Economy to Sheconomy: The Evolution of Women and their Sphere of Influence

In its’ fourth installment of Women, Power & Money, Fleishman-Hillard and Hearst Magazines have released their survey which highlights the American woman’s “sphere of influence”. The latest study revealed many of the newly adopted traits of women consumers, their new consumer mindsets and redefined shopping habits. 

Women in the digital age continue to evolve following the adoption of mobile technology, social networks, and the increase in marketing messages. With an ever expanding social circle of virtual friends, family and social groups, her sphere of influence has amplified beyond her home, career or family to a media channel as the receiver, influencer and broadcaster of information in the marketplace.  

Women are interested in expressing their ideas and also discovering from these shared experiences. This is evidenced in the sudden growth of the social photo sharing website, Pinterest and the growing focus on collaborative consumption services like Ridejoy, Vayable, Tradepal, Taskrabbit and Airbnb. 

Technology is enabling trust between strangers on a scale that goes beyond what was imagined through bartering, sharing and trading. This was noted in the study as from the years 2008 to 2011, there was an increase from 31% to 50% in women surveyed who claimed they regularly influence friends and family on purchasing decisions. 

What this means for brands is rather than narrowing their message, they must adapt to target a varied constituency of American women who view themselves as successful and seriously assert their role as decision-maker. Woman have shifted their purchasing criteria toward the practical, value-oriented with a greater desire for substance over sizzle. 

As peer-based influence continues to grow, the issue of how we can better manage our consumption will continue to evolve. The area of collaborative consumption is now hitting the mainstream media as prosumers continue to look for better ways to consume and not go back to their prior habits.  

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