NEWS1 November 2016

Lack of social purpose in sharing economy

News UK

UK – As sharing economy taxi brand Uber hits the headlines for its employment practices, research on this mode of business points to the untapped market for platforms with a social purpose.

Sharing crop

Almost 45 million Britons ( 87%) are unaware of how sharing economy technologies could help them access social support services or support community causes according to research from TNS Global for innovation foundation Nesta.

It found that only 9% of British adults used a collaborative economy platform for a social purpose in the past year. But almost a quarter ( 22%) said they would be interested in using one in in the future.

The TNS Global survey gauged user behaviour in mainstream and social purpose platforms and assessed the level of appetite for social purpose platforms in the future.

While nearly a third of 16- to 34-year-olds have used a collaborative economy platform for ‘a good cause’ in the past 12 months, only 6% of all British adults surveyed accessed support for themselves, or community, from someone else in this way.

Also, when it comes to health and care support, only 3% of adults aged 55+ have used a platform for this purpose.

Helen Goulden, executive director of the Innovation Lab at Nesta, said: “The popularity of sharing economy platforms like Airbnb and Uber remain undimmed, with billions being invested into digital commercial platforms that enable people to access the things they need in different ways.

“While these disruptive businesses raise important issues, we’ve become utterly fixated with an incredibly narrow definition of the sharing economy. But entrepreneurs from across the sectors are now showing us new, exciting ways of harnessing the sharing economy to meet societal, not just consumer, needs. That nearly a quarter of the population have an appetite to engage in new platforms that deliver real social impact is heartening, to say the least.”