News & Views

Jenna Cane

UK sharing economy usage rises by 60 per cent

Users of the sharing economy in the UK have grown by 60% in 18 months, a new survey has found.

Warwick Business School academics also found that 23% of the UK population use sharing economy services more than once a month.

In their report Who Shares and Who Doesn’t? Results of the Sharing Economy Consumer Survey 2017 Pinar Ozcan, Mareike Möhlmann and Chandy Krishnamorthy surveyed a representative sample of 1,220 UK residents as a follow up to their 2016 report. The sharing economy includes places to stay, rides, rental cars, parking, services, meals, pre-owned goods and funding.

Professor Ozcan said: “The rise of the Internet and an ever-connected world has empowered individuals and enabled companies to create disruptive business models which are transforming economies, businesses, industries and even the public sector. This cannot be truer than in the case of the sharing economy, which has increased in popularity, from being a minor phenomenon just years ago, to becoming a sizable business today and projected to become a substantial industry in the coming decade. The majority of public knowledge on the topic is derived from media and controversies surrounding certain platforms. This does not shed light on how people use the sharing economy. The dramatic pace at which the sharing economy is growing and the potential effects on society merit the need to understand the phenomenon in more detail.”

For more than 70 per cent of ride sharing and accommodation-sharing users, convenience and saving or making money are top motivations to engage in the sharing economy. Selling pre-owned goods is the most popular category with 47% of the UK population using them, with accommodation, ride-sharing and crowdfunding used by 50%.

Dr Möhlmann said: “As expected Greater London is the most popular region in the UK for the sharing economy with 67.6% of respondents using it, but it is also high in Scotland (67%), and Wales (66.2%). Ride-sharing is the most popular service used in Greater London, but for the rest of the UK it is places to stay that tops the list of activities. Usage also increases with level education, with around 68% of those with a Masters using the sharing economy compared to 49% with just O Levels or equivalent.”

Interestingly, once consumers start to use sharing platforms more, it becomes a lifestyle, with more than 73% of those who use sharing platforms at least once a month using multiple platforms.

Mr Krishnamorthy added: “Given the high penetration of smartphone usage among the younger population, it is not surprising that they are also heavy users of sharing applications. More than 70% of survey respondents in the age group 18 to 34 have used sharing platforms at least once. Participation is lower for higher age groups, falling to 54% for the 45 to 54 age group, and to 39% among the 55 plus age group.”

Richard Laughton, Sharing Economy UK Chair and CEO of easyCar, said: “The sharing economy is becoming a lifestyle choice, with this detailed survey from Warwick Business School showing that 73% of people who engage more than once a month are using multiple platforms. Alongside the convenience the sharing economy brings, people realise that there are great deals to be had. The main reason for people not to take part is that they don’t know about the sharing economy, so we clearly have work still to do. But it’s very encouraging to find that more than 90% of people think schemes like Sharing Economy UK’s TrustSeal bring valuable reassurance”

For a copy of the report click here