While considerable investigative work has focused on collaborative consumption (CC) from a managerial standpoint, the concept
still lacks the conceptual groundwork necessary to categorize and fully understand its scopes and limits. In an article published in the Academy of Marketing Science Review (AMSReview), in 2019, Ertz, Durif, and Arcand, draw upon past research to delineate the construct, discuss its dimensionalities, and propose a conceptualization of CC.
The collaborative consumption concept is based on six key thrusts:
(1) the consumer’s ability to switch sides: CC is characterized by the fact that consumers could be, if they so desire, both receivers and providers of a given resource. CC therefore induces a two-sided consumer role, which goes beyond the notion of consumer.
(2) the collaboration intensity; there are three levels:
- (1) pure collaboration (C2C, or Consumer-to-Consumer);
- (2) facilitated collaboration (C2C via a platform, an app, or a facilitating technology of some sort);
- (3) mediated collaboration, which has two facets, namely sourcing collaboration (C2O, or Consumer-to-Organization), and trading collaboration (O2C, or Organization-to-Consumer).
(3) the manner in which consumers partake in CC: temporarily or permanently.
(4) the transfer of ownership and use: CC entails both mutualization and redistribution. Mutualization is the act of providing others with access to privately owned resources, services or skills. In contrast, redistribution applies more effectively to tangible goods, as it is based upon the transfer of goods from someone who does not want them to someone who does.
(5) the channels used: CC extends on a continuum. At one end is the purely online, with web-based exchanges (e.g., P2P file exchanges
[Bittorent], P2P lending schemes [Lending Club], blockchain-supported and P2P cryptocurrencies, crowdsourcing, crowdfunding) and value co-creation networks. At the other end is purely offline, with reselling marketplaces (e.g., flea markets), donation schemes, as well as bartering and swapping schemes. Various nuances can be found along the aforementioned continuum. For example, eBay and Amazon both enable consumers to trade online used goods, but these must still be shipped to customers.
(6) the extended range of stakeholders in collaborative exchanges: four types of CC stakeholders have been
- (1) Consumers: Individuals who exchange resources with one another, either through an intermediary entity or directly from peer to peer. They may be either receivers or providers of any given resource type;
- (2) Third parties with platforms: This category refers to an intermediary owning a digital exchange platform or marketplace. These third parties do not own offline assets (e.g., cars, bicycles, time-share condos, workspace), but provide an online channel allowing consumers to engage in CC exchanges. Accordingly, the resources exchanged via these platforms belong to individual consumers, but sometimes also to other third parties, such as companies. Examples include Kijiji, eBay, Craigslist and Airbnb, as well as garden-sharing and home-swapping websites. Websites such as these are operated by for-profit or non-profit organizations. Third parties with platforms (or applications) can be: (a) Facilitators, which allow consumers to devise the terms and conditions of distribution and consumption of the resource or service; or (b) Mediators, which impose their own terms and conditions of distribution and consumption of a resource
or service to both the receiver and the provider;
- (3) Third parties with platforms and infrastructure: These entities, which are operated on a for-profit or a nonprofit basis, facilitate CC by providing not only an online platform, but also an offline resource circulation scheme in the form of tangible assets such as cars, bicycles, warehouses, stores, houses, suits and other assets. Website-backed toy-lending libraries or the Salvation Army’s website constitute relevant examples within this category. As with the previous category (i.e., third parties with platforms), these entities can be either facilitators or mediators. For instance, the French retail chain
Intermarché’s Family Troc platform allows consumers to swap and resell their pre-owned goods on its parking facilities and via its online platform, acting as a facilitator, whereas the Salvation Army is a mediator;
- (4) Traditional companies: This category refers to existing companies involved in conventional business schemes of production and commercialization of new products and professional services. They include retailers, distributors, service firms, manufacturers and producers. Seizing upon the potential of the CC phenomenon, many such businesses have developed specific branches or product lines dedicated to CC. For example, Ikea enables consumers to trade in their used goods and furniture.
This analytical endeavour brings to the fore the multidimensional aspect of CC, the centrality of a two-sided instead of a one-sided consumer role, and the extent to which both CC (collaborative consumption) and conventional consumption (conventional economy) are tightly interrelated.
- Myriam Ertz; Fabien Durif; Manon Arcand; A conceptual perspective on collaborative consumption. AMS Review 2018, 9, 27-41, 10.1007/s13162-018-0121-3.