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Consumers throughout the Western world are seeking greater value from products and services, and redefining their relationship with ‘stuff.’ And with flourishing online communities engaging with the concept of access over ownership, the internet is emerging as a robust platform for sharing models to grow and thrive.

The pursuit of ownership has seen people working harder to buy more things, hankering after the latest gadget and aligning their social status with material wealth, while loosening their bonds with the community.

Now, we’re experiencing a significant values shift, according to collaborative consumption expert Rachel Botsman, with a groundswell of people exchanging aspirations of ownership for a desire to reconnect with products in a more meaningful way, protect the environment and regain a sense of community. Many seek greater transparency and value, and more control over the way they consume, while others are prioritising experience and performance over possession.

For example the Millennials – the “less-owning generation,” care more about the “access to ownership” than ownership itself.
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This is an important, often overlooked trend that will profoundly shape the world economy in coming years. In short, we’re quickly moving into a paradigm where on-demand access to assets, rather than ownership, sets the tone for financial transactions. Think sharing cars via Zipcar or renting someone’s home through AirBnb. Who’s leading the way? A millenial generation come of age in an era of technological fluency, re-urbanization, high gas prices and stagnant wages.

Today, peer-to-peer software and mobile technology allow us all to have access, just when we need it, to the things we used to have to buy and hold. Right now this statement applies to server capacity, TV shows, office space, music and even clothes. In the future, we can only assume that other industries will follow.

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