Car Sharing and New Trends in Consumption: here’s the Future!

Either marketing studies and business practices at international level pay growing attention to new consumption models. They are based more on access and less on ownership.

In such a scenario we find practices such as bartering (which we discussed with the analysis of the case study) and car sharing, which we are going to take into consideration right now.

These emerging trends come from several important changes; in social behaviours, lifestyles, beliefs. Moreover, they are enabled by the Internet and boosted by the economic crisis, which push people to discover new ways for satisfying their needs.

However, it’s worth noting that Sharing is not for everybody. In fact, it (e.g. sharing an house, an office, a car, and so on) requires that people to be open-minded. Moreover, Sharing not only is a way for saving money, even if this can be an important drive for consumers.

There are other factors playing a role in this sense. For example, they are:

– the satisfaction you can get from discovering smart alternative ways for consumption
– chances for connecting with pleasant people
sustainability issues

If we take into consideration mobility by cars, we have two alternatives based on access.

The first one is to access a car from a wide range in common with others, like in the case of car2go. It means that you don’t own a specific car, but you can select the one you need and/or prefer when you need it.

Other users can do the same, of course. So, all the cars put up for sharing are common resource for all users of the service. However, it’s worth noting that users don’t access the same car together, but each of them do it for their own, in different moments.

This is a sort of car renting, but with a smarter formula compared to the past. For example, now in Milan (but I think that car2go-smart-fortwo-duomo-milanothis formula will soon spread out in other parts of Italy) you can access a wide range of Mercedes Smarts, which you can pick up in 5 different points of the city.

The reasons which make this formula so appealing are the following:

– the range of cars you can access is very wide, so it’s rare that you cannot find one car you need when you need it

– once you have finished using the car you have chosen, you can leave it in every public car park within the area covered by the service. This is an overall area of about 120 kilometers. This makes the user feel very comfortable and relaxed  when accessing the service

– you have no time restrictions when using a car of the range

– you are not requested a standard fee to access the service, but it rates 0,29€ per minute. This is a very accessible rate

The service works very easy:

– you have to register on the website
– you can then get your pass at the service point
–  you select the nearest car through your computer or smartphone. Of course, you can use a special application for this
– when you get to the car, you have to insert a code, reply to some introductory questions and then you can go

The second alternative consists of two or more users sharing the same car together. This is usually known as carpooling. One interesting case is BlaBlaCar.

It works easy as well: if you have a car and need to go from a certain place to another in a certain date, you can say it on the website and wait for messages from other users interested in sharing a larger or smaller path with you.

Otherwise, if you don’t have a car or don’t want to drive in order to get to a certain place, you can have a look at the website in a way to find somebody who can offer a ride to you. Of course, people who will be sharing the car will also be sharing all the related costs.

This is a very clever way to reduce the costs for moving. The recent increases in the costs of fuel and highway fees make all this as important as ever. However, this is not the only advantage of carpooling.

Talking with a few friends of mine who usually carpool, I can argue there are at least two other important reasons, which are strictly connected to each other:

-the chance not to travel alone, above all in the case of long distances
– the chance to share with like-minded people experiences and opinions. From this point of view, although I don’t have specific knowledge about that, I guess that people who carpool are open-minded and enjoyable

All things considered, these trends lead to important managerial implications:

a) on one side, new business opportunities emerge (like in the case of players such as BlaBlaCar). However, strong business models are needed. This is a crucial point for the new players of the intangible, digital and sharing economy

b) on the other hand, companies operating in ‘traditional markets’ are asked to reconsider their approach to consumers and their value creation processes, in order to take advantages of the new trends mentioned before

In this sense, you may consider that in the USA a growing part of new cars end up to become part of car sharing fleets. This makes the connection between car manufacturers and car users more uncertain.

This is another matter which needs to be studied more in depth in the near future.

Much has to come…

Fulvio for Experyentya