Why Do People Take Part in Collaborative Consumption?

The success of any collaborative consumption (CC) platform or business depends on reaching a critical mass, at which point users can easily find the goods, food, or skills which they seek. To understand the potential for platforms to reach this critical mass, shareNL interviewed twenty users of Dutch collaborative consumption services: on-demand stuff sharing platform Peerby, meal-sharing marketplace Shareyourmeal, and online skill marketplace Konnektid. From there, we analyzed motives and aggregated them into variables to explain why people are taking part in collaborative consumption.

Current users predominantly have the characteristics of innovators and early adopters. They got to know about the platforms through networks and social media and started using them mainly out of practical need. In addition, a diverse set of social, environmental and financial motives for using these platforms was found. Furthermore, recommendation by a friend or from a television programme proved to be effective. These findings correspond well to the drivers of CC identified by Botsman and Rogers (2011) that are P2P technologies, resurgence of community, environmental concerns and cost consciousness. These findings (tables 1&2) indicate that the consumer potential of CC (in the Netherlands) could be substantial because people with different motives might all be interested in CC, ranging from extrinsically motivated money makers to idealist intrinsic altruists.

Currently within the municipality of Amsterdam, 4000 citizens that are mostly not taking part in CC, receive a newly developed measuring instrument that measures what (rides, food, accommodation, skills, etc.), how (share, rent, borrow) and for what motives, people would consume collaboratively. More to come in August!

In August the full master thesis project of Pieter will be published in the Resources section. This research project is a collaboration between shareNL, Collaborative Lab, the Department for Research and Statistics of Amsterdam (O+S) and Utrecht University.


Motives Intrinsic Extrinsic General
Practical -Need of a meal, tool or skill>Knowing what’s available nearby-Space at home-Saving time-Get professional experience>Learning to become a cook>Test if there is a market for your future restaurant
Social -Helping someone satisfies-Being helped satisfies-Sharing brings enjoyment-Meeting people from one’sNeighbourhood brings enjoyment -Receiving compliments-Forward reciprocity – Boost social cohesion- Getting to know other cultures-Conflict prevention>Not looking for new friends but more a ‘like knows like’ connection
Environmental -Avoid unnecessary environmental burden-Avoid throwing food and stuff away -Makes sense to share products that are sitting idle-Earth has reached its limits and things have to be done differently
Financial -Financial gain>Make money>avoid costs-Higher quality food for less money -Income-Entrepreneurship>Filling market gaps
Curiousness -Enjoyment of finding -Possible tangible rewardsand testing new things

Table 1 – Overview of motives influencing the willingness of current users of CC platforms to take part in Collaborative Consumption

Networks and social media

Networks summary Social media summary
-Respondents got to know about their platforms mainly through:>Media (both local and national)>Recommendation-There seems to be a spin-over effect among the platforms-Different cultures have different networks-Currently it are networks with early adopter characteristics that are using CC platforms -Nearly all respondents are also using Facebook or Marktplaats-Nearly all respondents are familiar with at least one other CC platform.-Being familiar with another CC platform, Facebook or Martkplaats helps to start using a new CC platform.-Being familiar with offline ways of sharing helps to start using a new CC platform.-The use of online to go (and meet) offline is an important motive

Table 2 – Overview of networks and social media elements that are influencing the willingness of current users of CC platforms to take part in Collaborative Consumption


5 thoughts on “Why Do People Take Part in Collaborative Consumption?

  1. Hi Peter,

    I’m a Masters student (at Imperial College London) just starting my thesis on collaborative consumption. I would love to chat with you about your research and maybe read your full paper?

    my email address is elena.denaro12@imperial.ac.uk

    I hope to hear from you soon.


  2. Great post Pieter, thanks for sharing!
    Very interesting study and reasons to believe in the trend to a share economy.
    Which of the reasons below do you think are the most importants?

    Founder of Coomuna

    • Thanks for your reply Facundo,

      What is interesting in my research is that social motives (helping) are just as (and even slightly more) important as financial motives. This is different from research in the US (N>2000) that finds financial aspects to be the most important entrance motives.

  3. Pingback: 5 Reasons People Share | StoreIt Squirrel Blog

  4. Pingback: My Website / Blog | Why use sharing economy/collaborative commerce companies?

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