OPINION28 October 2015

Caring about sharing

B2B Opinion

Traditionally, marketing and its adjacent disciplines have been divided into two core categories – B2B and B2C. This has been disputed in recent times, with many arguing that the majority of organisations deal in both areas.


There is also the meme-made-movement claiming marketing is simply the H2H (human to human) category.

Undoubtedly, life for marketers is more complex than a simple B2B and B2C division. One factor that has disrupted this is the birth and rapid growth of the sharing economy. The rise of services such as Airbnb, Just Park and Uber has given birth to a new vertical of consumption, one that is a hybrid of progressive consumer and aspirational entrepreneur – B&C (Business and Consumer). The core traits of this new consumption vertical can be outlined as follows:

  • Generates revenue through a combination of salaried earnings and generation of own funds through a shared enterprise
  • The digital foundation of the sharing economy means that those involved are digitally both confident and savvy
  • Generation of revenue via shared enterprise demonstrates three core identity traits: a desire for greater income; possession of some degree of wanting self-sufficiency; somewhat of a shortfall in entrepreneurial ability and thus still in a salaried role

But where do this newly formed societal segment feed into the insight mix? What can we – as providers of insight and direction – offer such a grouping? And what progression does this require us to make vs. how we work with traditional B2B and B2C categories?

An Offer Anchored By Agility

The combination of job roles and entrepreneurial aspirations means this is a time-poor segment. This has a two-fold effect on how insight functions can collaborate with them:

  1. Any insight that can offer increased efficiencies whether it be through technological advancements or increased efficiency of feedback loops are likely to resonate
  2. Any insight solution marketed to this audience must be done with agility at the forefront of its offering

Metrics That Matter

The sharing economy is run on a series of core metrics – namely trust, recommendation and reputation. Insight around improved performance on these measures are likely to appeal greatest.

Quality Proven By Qualitative

Measures may matter, but the role of referral in the sharing economy is prominent. The power of the written word – whether it be positive or negative – is likely to ingrain the reflective sentiment in the mind of anyone reading an Airbnb review to these ends. This opens questions regarding the role text analytics could offer the aspirational entrepreneurs of the sharing economy.

Data = Power

Numbers, stars, feedback and referrals all contribute to sharing economy equity. As such, insight moves from being a role of strategic development to instant sales collateral.

A video-based future?

As video content as a vertical continues to grow with the era of the sharing economy, does this mean that there is an opportunity for Snapchat or Vine-esque meta insights around shared experiences? The snappy, powerful and digestible nature of such items suggest this may be the case.

When looking at all these potential uses of insight with this new audience, several points of progression are notable vs. the atypical B2B and B2C study:

  • Agility is of the utmost importance to mirror the lives of this audience
  • Simplicity — and therefore usability to sharing economy consumers — is pivotal. Basic scales and snapshots in this instance trump statistical modelling and projective techniques
  • The outputs of these endeavours are unlikely to be used to build large strategic plans – but simply as direct advertising pieces. Therefore, there is an increase requirement for digitally sociable and consumable insight

The result of this is that insight can offer B&C a great deal. A route to this market however requires the removal of some traditional laurels and an adaption of our model to be more reflective the dynamics that rule success in the era of the sharing economy.

Jack Miles is a research director at Northstar