Collaborative Economy: Brand Edition

A few days ago, I announced that I’ll be leading a research effort to understand the impacts of the growing Collaborative Economy trend.  I also listed 200 startups that are in this space (and a few big brands).  For those who are new to this topic, there’s an unstoppable wave of people trading, renting, and borrowing all kinds of services and goods.  The disruptive impacts to brands are potentially very high.  Consumers are already buying and trading among themselves, often without purchasing items directly from the brands themselves.  Companies that don’t pay attention to this trend are leaving themselves in a state of risk, as technology and society continue to quickly innovate.

[To stay relevant with this unstoppable trend, every corporation must evaluate a business model of products as a service, marketplaces, tapping the maker movement and crowd collaboration as market behaviors shift]

This trend has some major impacts for our social understanding of commercialism, materialism, and marketing.  Yesterday, I was with some young entrepreneurs who mentioned that the “American Dream is not about ownership of products, but just access to them.”  Renting, borrowing, and trading to live the lifestyle they want, with no worries, is suitable for their personal and vocational lives.  For example, my long-time tech contact, entrepreneur, and friend, Andrew Hyde, only owned 39 things in an attempt to simplify his life.

Recent history is littered with companies that didn’t adapt to this Collaborative Economy model.  From Blockbuster to Netflix, from newspapers to Craigslist, a few were able to harness this change.  Much of the media has deployed a variety of methods to curb peer-to-peer sharing.  As part of my research method, I like to lean on the community to source examples and case studies.  The following list contains examples of companies which have harnessed Collaborative Economy tactics to supplement their business strategy of innovation.  Here’s what I see:


Collaborative Economy: List of Brands and Corporations
Right now, at the start of this list, there are five companies, all in the auto space. I’ll add to it over time, as this trend takes off.

  1. BMW Drive NOW Premium Car Sharing by BMW i, Mini, and Sixt
  2. Volkswagen Quicar Car Share by VW (Hanover)
  3. Peugeot Mu Mobiliy Services Rentals
  4. Daimler Car2Go Sponteneity on Wheels
  5. RelayRides Uses OnStar technology, partnered with GM
  6. Toyota Rent a Car: Offers a wide range of cars to be rented, at dealer, Feb 2013
  7. Barclays Cycle Hire: Barclays, a Financial Services firm offers Bike Share (2010?)
  8. BarclayCard Ring crowdsources many functions, including content and crowd determines where profits go, more from Lithium.
  9. Minneapolis and ST. Paul have a bike sharing program sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield, called Nice Ride
  10. Radiohead gifts media, asking consumers to pay what they want, (2007) hat tip Nico Ibieta
  11. Dodge Dart Registry:  Crowdfund your next car
  12. Ford now was crowd sharing in Germany (submitted by Ford’s Scott Monty)
  13. Walmart considers having customers ship their own products (Submitted by Joe Chernov)
  14. Google rents Chromebooks for $30 (Submitted by Ned Boyajian)
  15. Enterprise Ride Share and Vanpool for individuals, employers, government. and has also acquired car sharing IGO in Chicago
  16. Patagonia is now partnered with eBay (Commmon Threads) to foster a marketplace of used goods for sale, and also partnered with Yerdle to support swapping –instead of buying
  17. NBC partners with Yerdle as a media partner for one year to promote idea of reduced consumption from brands, and instead swapping
  18. Virgin Airlines partners with Taxi.to to enable social matching of guests who want to carpool after a flight
  19. Citibank sponsors Citi Bikes in NYC, my coverage here
  20. Microsoft Windows taps into crowdfunding, paying 10% down and asking for others to chip in. Via Stefano Maggi
  21. ScotteVest promotes used goods to be purchased and sold on eBay
  22. Two community banks partner with LendingClub a peer to peer financing site
  23. Retailer West Elm features Etsy creations in their physical stores, I was able to see this first hand in Palo Alto
  24. A number of companies, like REI are cooperatives that have shared ownership and or a democratic governance system.
  25. Enterprise Holdings purchased Zimride from Lyft, July 2013
  26. Quirky and GE partner in co-ideation and working with crowd. Thanks to Dan Mallin for link.
  27. Regus and Zipcar (Avis) partner, Aug 2, 2013 (hat tip Dave Frankland)
  28. ING co-working space in downtown Toronto (hat tip Howard Hecht)
  29. Marriott experiments with Liquidspace for rapid booking. On Sept 23rd, Marriott and Liquidspace double downed their bets making lobbyist a collaborative workplace.
  30. Lincoln Motors partnered with CustomMade to allow the maker movement to create custom artifacts for new owners. Added Aug 2013, program started spring.
  31. Comcast has invested $1m in Maker’s Row.  Publish date, July 2013, hat tip J.T. Ramsay
  32. Google Ventures invests $258 million into Uber, (hint: Google Mine, and self driving cars), August 2013
  33. W Hotel has partnered with DesksNearMe, added August 2013
  34. Ikea has encouraged ride sharing in Canada and France, added August 2013, hat tip Juho Makkonen
  35. NFL has partnered with Uber to curb drunk driving athletes, Sept 2013
  36. eBay launched SecretGuru in UK, a services marketplace, in Oct 2012, hat tip Juho Makkonen
  37. B&Q, a home improvement retailer in UK launches neighborhood sharing, called StreetClub, hat tip Juho Makkonen
  38. Retailer, Argos, launches toy swapping website, hat tip Juho Makkonen
  39. EasyJet airlines launches a car sharing service called Easy Car, hat tip Juho Makkonen
  40. General Electric launches partnership with skill sharing startup  SkillShare, hat tip Juho Makkonen
  41. Home Depot rents delivery trucks and tools, hat tip Lou Gutheil
  42. Uber partners with GE in promotion in SF with Delorean cars
  43. UHaul investor club allows for peer to peer lending based on assets (videos dated 2011)
  44. Kaggle, a marketplace of top global scientists is tapped by GE, AllState, and Merck
  45. Razorfish, a digital agency, provided free bikes (that Tweet) at SXSW in Austin 2013 called Use Me Leave Me. (thanks Adam Helweh)
  46. H&M takes in older clothes and provides store credit (hat tip Ruth Bender from WSJ)
  47. Uber partners with StubHub (owned by eBay) for game day.
  48. Nordstrom and Etsy partner for original hand crafted goods to be sold at retail scale, (Feb 2013)
  49. Toyota releases a new 3 wheel I-Road, intended tob e shared –not bought.  Oct, 2013, hat tip, Dan Ziman
  50. Nokia released 3D printing software files to encourage people to print out their own phone cases.  Many use Shapeways (thanks Duanne, from Shapeways)
  51. MasterCard sponsored NY’s CitiBike bike sharing program, as a Preferred Payment Provider (May 2013)
  52. Shapeways, 3D printing as a service, is a successful spin out and investment from Philips.
  53. GE and TaskRabbit team up for free delivery, under the Brilliant Machines campaign (Oct 2013)
  54. Fon launches a wifi router that’s designed to share.  It produces a second signal for all Fon customers, via Facebook connect. (Oct 2013)
  55. Patron offers Halloween revelers a safe ride home, by partnering with Uber (Oct 2013)
  56. Samsung taps crowd innovation startup Marblar for crowd innovation and partnerships with Samsung. hat tip Vivian Wang (Oct 2013)
  57. Ikea launches second hand marketplace, encouraged used goods to be sold –rather than bought anew. hat tip Juho Makkonen
  58. Western Union partnered with Airbnb for international payments
  59. TOMs launches a marketplace featuring 30 makers for social good
  60. Uber partners with GM and Toyota to get more cars on road –in exchange for price discounts
  61. Uber partners with Ford to provide free rides, and promote a new vehicle.
  62. Uber partners with Home Depot to deliver Xmas trees on demand in Dec 2013
  63. Uber and Paypal partner at LeWeb, Dec 2013 to give entrepreneurs a unique place to pitch
  64. Philips is partnering with Indiegogo to host this competition and help bring your ideas to life through crowdfunding, including $100,000 from Philips.  Hat tip Lisa Gansky
  65. Kelly Services and oDesk partner, Dec 2013
  66. Thredup and Diapers.com partnered for recommerce
  67. Walgreens and Taskrabbit partner to deliver cold medicine, Jan 2014 (link via Mike D Merrill)
  68. Hotels like Hyatt, Kimpton Hotels are now renting jewelry, hairspray, waffle irons, and clothes (link via Collaborative Labs)
  69. Home Depot and Quirky partner to co-innovate new products for Home Depot shelves. (Youtube date, Sept 2013)
  70. Uber and Pepsi partner for Superbowl celebrations to bring a half time show to your local corner in NY (Jan 2014)
  71. Uber partners with the Cosmo hotel in Vegas, providing ride and room from LA to Vegas (Jan 2014)
  72. Rent a Runway partners with Cosmo hotel for dress rental (Dec 2013)
  73. Uber and Mastercard partner for 2014 Valentine’s day (Feb 2014)
  74. Ford and Techshop celebrate one year of partnership for employee innovation
  75. Virgin Airlines partners with Circleup for crowd funding of consumer packaged food on flights, hat tip Lisa Gansky, Feb 2014
  76. Hasbro enables customers to 3D print toys in partnership with 3D systems, Feb 2014
  77. Westin rents workout gear to hotel guests
  78. ENI, an energy company in Italy lead a car sharing effort, press release, submitted by Luca Gatti
  79. Comcast works with Airbnb to upgrade properties, submitted by JT at Comcast, April 2014
  80. Boating Manufactured Brunswick partners with Boatsharing company Boatbound, submitted by Lisa Gansky, April 2014
  81. Walmart offers trade in of pre-owned goods, offering access over ownership, March 2014
  82. Many more B2B examples from Juho, the CEO of Sharetribe (white label marketplaces), who’s provided many-a-links.
  83. Add a brand or corporation to this list, by leaving a comment below

Opportunities for Corporations; Your Business Model Will Change
The brand business model will need to completely shift.  My thesis is that for some retail and CPG companies to sustain, they will need to extend their business models to rent and allow for bartering.  That’s right, I’m going to explore future use cases where Walmart, Macy’s, Gucci, Nordstrom, Target, Apple, BestBuy, Audi, P&G, will offer products for rent or lease –not ownership or consumption.  Service based companies like Manpower, Kelly Services, HRBlock, may all need to develop methods that allow for independents to be involved in workforce, extending the model to peer to peer based services market where they take a margin cut.  Even the hospitality space is impacted, expect companies like Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, to not only rent rooms at their hotels, but to certify individual home owners houses to be rented out on second market exchanges like AirBnb or create their own market.   In most radical use cases, brands may give away products for free as gifts, in expectation for donations, a promise for customers to come back later, or to receive a barter, or for no reason at all.  Crazy?  Not really, consumers are already doing this, and businesses must often model consumer behaviors to stay relevant. Lastly, assume there will be lots of acquisitions of startups to corporations, again, here’s my list of startups.

If you’d like to get involved with this research, please do the following:
I’m an industry analyst, which means I conduct research, and publish reports, see my Body of Research to learn more.

  • Add to this list, by leaving comments below, of companies that are adopting Collaborative Economy strategies
  • Request to be interviewed in this research report, on this web form. (I’d love to interview brands, even if anonymous)
  • Share this post with your colleagues, clients, and executives.

(Note: If I may be so bold, Altimeter Group, where I’m a partner and owner, we practice Open Research and publish reports at no cost, rather than use a subscription model)