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25

Sep

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. 

(Source: tradepal.com)

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10

Sep

Money and Happiness

According to a Princeton University study, money does buy happiness. Surprisingly, the magic number is only $75k. The study reveals that any increment below that benchmark leads to a feeling of misery. In contrast, as it rises above the benchmark, the rate of happiness stays constant. 

Harvard psychologist and happiness expert, Dan Gilbert, offers Eight Ways to Spend your Money and Get Happy Doing it

Here is a summary:

1. Use your money to purchase experiences. Instead of purchasing goods, spend on thrills, concerts, sporting events and travel as greater happiness is derived from experience purchases than material purchases. 

2. The pleasure of giving money to others derives happiness. Spending on one’s self is less satisfying than the emotional rewards derived from charities, donations, and helping others.

3. As pleasure is fleeting, spend on small temporary pleasures rather than larger outlays in larger time gaps.  

4. Pass on the extended warranties and other insurances that are overpriced. These guarantees provide no happiness by hedging against future regret. By depriving one from the emotional benefit of commitment.

5. Refocus mentally from the use now and pay later and commit to the purchase now. Consume it going forward as future events trigger stronger emotions. 

6. Contemplate the consequences prior to committing. Psychological distress is better predicted by negative consequences than major life events. 

7. Comparison shop for the ‘best deal’ rather than the greatest from a monetary perspective.

8. Explore other consumers opinions prior to committing to a purchase.

While these guidelines offer consumers mental cues to help curb their consumerism, they also offer insight into the emotional triggers that surround money. Aristotle found that happiness is not merely an emotional state, but it is derived by achieving virtues. He believed that when one found the balancing point between a deficiency and excess they could achieve greater long-term pleasure than just fleeting amusements. 

Image Source: Lam Thuy Vo / NPR

(Source: tradepal.com)

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06

Aug

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

(Source: tradepal.com)

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23

Jul

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 Carpooling.com, 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.



(Source: tradepal.com)

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06

Jun

The Power Of Now

(Source: mbartstudios.com)

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07

Apr

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

(Source: tradepal.com)

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01

Apr

Soul Kitchen: the Sharing Economy’s Restaurant Option

The JBJ Soul Kitchen redefines community by offering healthy restaurant fare and a unique way to pay it forward. In an effort to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty, last October the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation launched its’ community kitchen concept. Focusing on volunteerism with a “pay-what-you-can” option, the unique non-profit community program offers a menu devoid of prices. 

The Red Bank, New Jersey restaurant is inspired by chefs and volunteers who prepare healthy three-course meals while helping out neighbors who are less fortunate. The stigma-free kitchen expands on the sharing economy by offering a dining experience where patrons don’t owe anything, but if they can contribute, the Soul Kitchen will accept cash donations or volunteering in exchange for a meal.

For as little as $10 per meal, the non-profit can cover the cost of a meal, while anything extra will help cover someone else’s meal. Volunteer options include cooking, cleaning, serving others, busing tables and even stocking shelves at the restaurant. Now in its fifth year as a non-profit, in addition to the community kitchen, the foundation partners with local charities and churches to provide support, job skills and housing for those in need.

Kitchen 2 from JBJ Soul Kitchen on Vimeo.

(Source: tradepal.com)

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23

Mar

A Wrap-up of SxSWi 2012 by the Tradepal Team

(Source: tradepal.com)

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17

Mar

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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29

Feb

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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20

Feb

Tradepal is Now on Pinterest

(Source: tradepal.com)

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Happy Presidents’ Day

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19

Feb

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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14

Feb

The Third Wave of the Internet Powered by the Sharing Economy

This past January, Brian Chesky Co-Founder and CEO of Airbnb presented his views on the sharing economy and his future vision for Airbnb during his keynote at DLD 2012 in Munich. A native New Yorker, he gave many comparisons of peoples’ natural tendency to share. Dating as far back as 45,000 years ago, people were ‘hardwired to share’ and this was how tribes survived, according to Chesky. 

"Before World War II, people shared. Following that timeframe, Americans were told to spend and to help stimulate the economy…and eventually people stopped sharing. Over the last 50 years we have consumed more than in the entire human history before that period."

Now 60 years in the future, the ‘new’ movement is coined the sharing economy. In his keynote, Brian Chesky states, “the average person uses one-third of every paycheck to cover their housing, and another $8,000 annually for car expenses”. 

The sharing economy enables people to make extra money with the assets they aren’t using. Chesky asserts that in 1995, the first wave of the Internet brought consumers online while the second wave connected them together through social networks. He refers to the new wave, the ‘third wave of the Internet’ as the convergence of online with the offline world; people become more social and share offline experiences.

Examples found in the sharing economy: 

Space Share - Airbnb, Loosecubes, Coworking spaces

Car Share - RelayRides, Zipcar, Getaround

Task Share - Taskrabbit

Peer-to-Peer Marketplaces - Farmers Markets, Tradepal, ThredUP

Experience Share - GuideHop

In view of the revitalization of sharing, Chesky stated,

"We used to try to keep up with the Jones’ and now we are sharing with the Jones’." 

Chesky shared his company’s vision to stimulate local businesses by enabling access to spaces. He hopes Airbnb will be the “protagonist” in helping expand the sharing economy by allowing people to ultimately gain access to any city, and be able to share any asset, any space within the next two years.

In contrast to the green movement of the early 2000s, the sharing economy is not evangelizing that we must sacrifice in order to save the world, but Chesky suggests, 

"What if it was actually better for us. We could save more money, have a more social life, share more and make the environment better."

In closing, Chesky asserted that with a broader currency of trust, where we all have online reputations, we all could have access to more. In 2011, 5 million nights were booked on Airbnb. Access is more powerful than ownership. 

(Source: tradepal.com)

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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