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The end of the consumer

TRENDAFRiCA July 17, 2013

By Claire Cobbledick

A new economic model has developed, as our definitions of ownership are changing. Collaborative consumption, named by Time as one of the ‘10 Ideas That Will Change the World’, is defined as the shift in values from ownership to sharing and access. It comes about as we turn from owning products and accumulating long term wealth, to a focus on gaining experiences or services without the commitment of financial or time investment.

Sharing is not new, but rapid advances in technology – especially the connections and ease offered by mobile apps and social networks, and advances in payment technology – put in place the infrastructure that supports trust and accessibility, allowing for a rapid increase in community sharing.

Whether it be the consumption of products through renting them online (such as movies); swapping clothes and other items via social networks; or ‘borrowing’ physical spaces such as a sofa (couch surfing), or a house while the owners are on holiday; collaborative consumption is transforming business as we know it for a consumerism that is not only collaborative, but often also more fulfilling and sustainable.

Unthinkable a decade or so ago, this economic model is not based just on access to products and price. It’s also, not surprisingly, about networks – a new peer-to-peer commerce, meaningful connections, and establishing trust among those involved.

It has long bothered me that we refer to our target market as consumers. It is such a one-dimensional view of the human beings we are trying to connect with and persuade. And it carries arrogance in the assumption that these people are just waiting to consume your product or service. Now in an era when even consumption is not what it was, the label CONSUMER is utterly archaic. It is time for a new marketing discourse that implies respect and understanding.

 

Source: The Jupiter Drawing Room (Cape Town) managing director, Claire Cobbledick, @clairecobbles, is a TREND.spotter for TREND. 

 

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