A global report by Nielson on the share economy found the US to be less receptive to the new sharing economy than Asian-Pacific countries. The survey showed 81% of Asian-Pacific respondents were willing to rent from others, while globally 68% of respondents were willing to share or rent personal items.
Marketing firm Leo Burnett conducted their own study “The Sharing Economy: Where We Go From Here” on the US market, looking into how Americans are interacting with the sharing economy. The study found Americans to be sharing less than their international counterparts, with the report suggesting the average American is unlikely to embrace the sharing economy, largely because of the high value Americans have traditionally placed on ownership. The report noted:
“For most Americans, owning a home and a car and advancing the next generation higher up the economic ladder are still the defining characteristics of the American dream of success.”
Based on a sample of 4,500 participants, the report found only 1 in 20 Americans have participated in well-known companies driving the share economy such as AirBnB, Uber and ZipCar. Indeed only 1 in 3 participants have heard of AirBnB. However it should be noted that a sample of 4,500 participants is also unlikely to accurate reflect the nation’s collective level of engagement in the sharing economy.
There seems to be a polarity between the research that have suggested the US is less receptive to the sharing economy, and the reality that many disruptive game-changers driving the share economy have been conceptualised in the US. Silicon Valley is certainly a testament to the fast-paced innovation that makes the US one of the leading countries driving international participation in the sharing economy.
The sharing economy has arguably never been driven purely by altruistic motives, and its success has more likely rested on “people’s practical needs and their ability to save or make money.” Tellingly, 52% of Leo Burnett survey respondents said they agreed with this statement, “I think most people would rather own than share, if they can afford to.”
Perhaps the more revealing question to ask Americans would have been, “would you monetise your possessions if given the opportunity?”