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Storytelling is Key to the "Access Economy"

3p is proud to partner with the Presidio Graduate School’s Managerial Marketing course on a blogging series about “sustainable marketing.” This post is part of that series. To follow along, please click here.

By Piper Kujac

The meteoric rise of collaborative consumption start-ups, such as AirBnB, GoGrubly, Getaround, thredUp, and SnapGoods, to name a few, is arguably due to social media and the people-powered networks that support them.  This marketplace is quickly evolving into a robust open-source business platform worth upwards of $110 billion.  Known as the access economy, it not only reduces society’s footprint by connecting people to shared resources, but increases society’s net worth, by connecting people to each other through relationships.

In fact, as SnapGoods founder Ron J. Williams says, it’s about selling ‘karma,’ not the actual good itself.  Ron has found that it’s the experience of building relationships, and story telling that gets people coming back for more.  And that’s not a bad customer loyalty program. When it works well, people actually make money off the stuff they already have: their spare room, prized motorcycle, car they don’t need on weekends. Their fans take care of marketing through tweets, twitpics, Facebook ‘likes,’ and smartphone apps.  People vote with their feet, or fingertips in this case, to get what they want affordably, and choose the kind of consumer experience they want to have.

The social factor is so big that new business models are evolving out of the access economy, just to track its progress.  One such site, Shareable, recently tallied these consumers figures:

  • Average amount that a New Yorker makes renting their space on AirBnB: $21,000

  • Amount the average user makes on Rentoid renting out their gaming systems: $200

  • Average amount made by Relayride’s frequent renters: $8,931

But it’s not just the money that gets people to open up and ask of (or give to) their community.  While a downward economy spurs growth in affordable consumer alternatives, it is arguably the experience and social factor that attracts people most.  As the ‘Godfather of Community Transaction’ Craig Newmark of craigslist recently ‘shared’ on Shareable that the access economy is an opportunity to collaborate and ‘it’s about giving people a break.’  Craig, who needs no last name at this point, is now taking the social factor a step further, with CraigConnects.org, his new nonprofit founded on connecting people for the common good.

So where is all this headed, you might ask?  The beauty of people-powered business is that it evolves organically, or virally in this case, in reaction to consumer wants and needs.  That means you, the consumer, is the primary stakeholder and shareholder here, and your voice influences the direction of the social enterprise.

Want to learn more about Presidio and this project? Click here.

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