Let’s be honest. The “sharing economy” sounds like a millennial buzzword that everyone throws around but very few people actually understand. But in reality, the sharing economy is a huge part of our daily lives, and most of us (millennials or not) participate in it even if we’re not really familiar with the lingo. 


In this article, we’re going to talk about everything having to do with the sharing economy. What is it? What companies are part of it? Who is using it the most? And what in the world does “p2p” mean? 

First of all, what is the sharing economy?

The idea is actually quite simple. But we’ve got to backtrack a bit to get there. Before the sharing economy, our economy was made up of customers and corporations, consumers and salespeople, shoppers and shopkeepers. Basically, if you needed goods and services, you went to a business that specializes in whatever it was you needed. For instance, if you needed a place to stay, you would call up a hotel and book a room. If you needed someone to take care of your dog, you might call a dog boarding business to look after your pooch. 


With the sharing economy, we no longer rely on corporations to solve those problems for us. Through a platform or an app, we’re able to connect with individual people who can offer us the same or similar goods and services. This is where p2p, or peer-to-peer, comes into play. Much of the sharing economy functions as peer to peer transferring of goods and services.


The big one that comes to mind, of course, is Airbnb, which allows people to connect directly with homeowners for a room to stay instead of calling a hotel. There are now similar apps for pretty much every facet of daily life. You can use the sharing economy to get a ride, find a parking space, revamp your wardrobe, order food, find someone with the skills to put together your new Ikea furniture, and more.

What makes the sharing economy so appealing?

It might seem like the sharing economy is quickly crushing the competition, and there are a few reasons why.


First of all, purchasing goods and services on sharing economy apps is often cheaper and more convenient. Who wants to stand on a street corner waiting for a cab when they can order an Uber that they know will arrive in 4 minutes? And, they’ll likely save money, too.


And it’s not just consumers that like this new structure, either. Working in the sharing economy can be a great first or second income for many people, and there are plenty of ways to make passive income off the sharing economy. For instance, at Spacer, we’ve got thousands of Hosts who make money renting out their extra space for people who don’t want to sign a contact with a big storage company or pay for a parking garage. 


Plus, the flexibility and autonomy that the sharing economy provides is great for people who want more control over their work schedule. 


And there’s one last thing that not too many people talk about. The sharing economy isn’t just about saving money or convenience or shiny new apps. It has also been able to solve problems in some local communities. Platforms like Kickstarter allow regular folks to raise money for things like hospital bills, college funds, or rebuilding after a natural disaster. Uber and Lyft are starting to offer bike and scooter rentals to provide even cheaper mobility options. And the general shift towards sharing what we have instead of buying all of our own materials is better for the planet. 


It’s for reasons like these that we’ll likely see even more growth in the sharing economy over the next few years.

Who is using the sharing economy the most? 

Alright, you can probably guess who the biggest demographic is when it comes to the sharing economy. According to areport on the sharing economy by PwC, those most likely to enjoy the sharing economy are ages 18 to 24, and those most likely to contribute are ages 25 to 44. 


As far as how many people use the sharing economy, the answer is, well, a lot. According to the latest statistics fromStatista, 73.7 million Americans are projected to use the sharing economy this year. That’s almost double the number in 2016.


With so many people using the sharing economy, it’s also not surprising to hear that over$23 billion has been invested in these businesses over the last 10 years. And there’s no indication that that’s going to slow down any time soon.

Which companies are included in the sharing economy?

Chances are, you’ve probably used the services of one of these platforms, even if you weren’t sure they were part of the sharing economy. Here’s a list of the top companies:

  • Airbnb - the global room sharing service, mostly for short-term rentals

  • Uber and Lyft - two similar ride sharing apps

  • Ebay - buy and sell new and used items

  • Craigslist - everything from job listings, to room shares, to the sale of new and used items

  • Kickstarter - crowdfunding

  • Spacer - sharing of storage and parking spaces

  • Zipcar - easy way to rent a car short-term

  • WeWork - shared work space

  • Postmates - food delivery service

  • UpWork and Fivver - two similar contracting platforms, connecting employers with freelancers

  • Wag and Rover - dog walking and pet sitting services

  • TaskRabbit - labor-sharing for the tasks that you don’t know how (or don’t want) to do

  • SitterCity - babysitting services

  • ThredUp and Rent the Runway - peer-to-peer consignment and clothing rental platforms

Final word on the sharing economy

You might have been a bit surprised at how much this economy has expanded from right under your nose. No matter what city you live in, you’ve likely participated in - or at least heard of - one of these sharing economy services. 


And it’s been pretty great for consumers and anyone looking to make a bit of extra income. We’re excited to see where the sharing economy will take us next!