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March 2015

The sharing economy: a new business model

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In the last 15 years, we’ve experienced a sharp increase in collaborative consumption. What does that mean exactly? Who’s involved and how did we end up with this new economic model? Let’s take a look.


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It all started with the arrival of Amazon, eBay and Paypal and the idea that conducting a financial transaction on the Internet was not so scary after all. Slowly, and in spite of worrying about accidentally providing bank information to a random hacker, consumers got used to shopping on the web. Furthermore, today, the French are third in online consumption within Europe, having spent € 31 billion in 2013, behind the Germans and the British, who spent € 42 and € 53 billion respectively. (Source:


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Later, Facebook added the aspect of sharing, within an enormous community where everyone knows even the smallest details about everyone else. Social networking has led to transparency that has resulted in consumers immediately saying what they think: they share their ideas and their vacation photo, comment on their friends’ lives, and, of course, share all about their own social life too.


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We can’t neglect to mention that the smartphone’s technical prowess keeps us hyper-connected. This lets us share constantly and even shop on our mobile device. It’s worth noting that 10% of French residents purchased products using a smartphone app in 2015.


Opportunity Knocks

All these behavioral changes, occurring at the same time as the ongoing financial crisis, naturally led us into what is called the sharing economy. In this paradigm, the consumer has become a “user” rather than an owner, and the trading of household items, crowdfunding, and sharing transportation have emerged as a unified reaction to the financial difficulties that we have all experienced.
Looking at the speed at which this trend is spreading, there are people who have bet everything on the collaborative economy and have launched platforms for sharing lodging, travel, and even clothing, by focusing on direct communication between individuals.

Today, Airbnb, Blablacar and Über are surfing the wave of the sharing economy, and the services they provide have become inexpensive but useful amenities.
Blablacar’s riders, for example, share the cost of a trip, while Ouistock lets people share storage space. The social storing company was created by two graduates of Lille’s HEI (engineering school). With already more than 100,000 m3 of storage space available to rent at a 60% savings when compared to classic storage solutions, it’s an interesting idea that, since the company launched last May, has already attracted a community within the sharing economy.

If collaborative consumption ends up replacing the traditional purchase, what dangers does this hold for the economy?


Collaboration is alive and well in the Lille region too!

Learn about Clic & Walk, the Lille-area start-up figuring out how to satisfy its customers


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