Efforts are being made to get people sharing pretty much anything - transport, their homes and even their leftover food. It's a sign of tough economic times and increasing environmental pressures. Entrepreneurs are trying to find innovative ways to save people money, reduce waste and be 'green'. I think it's fantastic but the hurdles for these new solutions are undoubtedly tough to surpass. It's something ourselves and our friends at ShareMyFare.com are working hard on, taking different approaches and acting on each other's results. I believe the three difficulties we face are:
1. Creating awareness about our products and giving the people enough incentive to buy into the sharing economy
2. Making users feel safe in sharing with strangers and safe in sharing something they've never shared before
3. Maintaining early adopters, and offering them incentives to keep attempting to share, even if their initial attempts fail due to lack of critical mass
So how do we aim to solve these issues? After all, few people will disagree that the mass adoption of a sharing economy would yield brilliant results economically, socially and environmentally. Solving issue one is more obvious - it's about clever marketing, positioning our products carefully in the market and capturing the masses quickly and efficiently. With fear of this turning into 'just another' marketing piece, I'd like to focus on issues 2 and 3.
Here at JumpIn, we believe that to make the people beyond the most outgoing, sociable and 'free' users share taxis, we need to create safe communities to allow those who only want to share with like-minded individuals, do so. ShareMyFare.com will build features with a similar focus but we both have a wider vision – to make everybody confident of sharing. Another way is to create incentives that encourage sharing. Initially, forcing users to share may push them out of their comfort zone but a positive experience could open their mind to sharing more in the future. Here we face an issue that is deeply embedded in culture and it will take time alter. Not everyone is comfortable with offering up a space in his or her car to a stranger, so we need to install confidence and force this through if we are going to make progress. Fortunately, confidence in sharing is growing and there are increasing amounts of people who are buying into sharing initiatives. It's also very dependent on localised culture. As a generalisation, people in the US tend to be more open-minded and comfortable with trying sharing for the first time. However in the UK, the public draw negative safety connotations.
It's fantastic capturing a good early user base but to facilitate sharing, we need users to be concentrated in similar areas - your lasagne might be slightly past it’s best by the time its shipped to a sharer in the Philippines! This creates a problem. Early users will offer to share something, whatever it may be, and will most probably not find anybody to share it with. Sharing concepts have got to work tirelessly to ensure these early adopters aren't lost. One way of targeting this is to partake in localised advertising, building users in specific locations to ensure critical mass is developed quickly. Another way is to incentivise early adopters to keep trying, to spread the word and to not give up hope on the sharing economy. Lastly, sharing platforms must collaborate to share their early users and connect them for the wider good. For example, if JumpIn has a user who's joined in Budapest, why don't we aim to connect him with ShareMyFare.com's latest Budapest joiner? Otherwise, both platforms face losing both users.
It will be interesting to see how sharing platforms progress in their battle to capture the mass market over the coming months. I hope we can work together to make the culture change and get the sharing economy moving!
Co-Founder – JumpIn™
posted on 9/3/2013 by "ShareMyFare Team"