Antje Graul, Utah State University – Sharing Economy

Sharing has become an economy.

Antje Graul, assistant professor of marketing at Utah State University, delves into sharing and emotional connections to our things.

ANTJE GRAUL (antje.graul@usu.edu) is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at Utah State University. She received her Ph.D. in Marketing from the University of Leeds, UK. Her research interests lie in the area of consumer decision-making, value perception and attachment. She investigates its application to motivations for anti-consumption and consumer sharing.

Sharing Economy

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The sharing economy is a new form of consumption that enables us to access — rather than own — products. Online platforms make use of the latest digital technologies to help enable private rentals from consumer to consumer. Popular examples include Airbnb, where people rent out their private accommodations, or Turo where people share their private cars with others for a small fee.

Such private sharing is increasingly popular and represents a multi-billion-dollar industry. Its benefits include helping to conserve manufacturing resources, reducing ownership expenses, and cutting costs associated with insurance or maintenance.

Interestingly, people often feel a sense of emotional connection with the products they are offering to share, such as a beloved beach house or car. In my research with Dr. Aaron Brough, we specifically focus on those types of rentals. We found that owners often share memories and special experiences that they’ve had with their products as a selling point to encourage others to rent them out. Is this a good strategy?

To find out, we collected data through a series of experiments and discovered that when owners reveal their personal attachments to products, this actually tends to lower other peoples’ interest in renting them. Why?Because potential renters want to avoid the responsibility of protecting products from damage or loss that are so special to their owners.

Therefore, our advice for people is: share your products – just don’t share why they’re so special to you! You’re bound to maximize interest in your products by not disclosing their sentimental value. 

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