Jeremiah Owyang of Crowd Companies, Vision Critical Release First-Ever Report Profiling the Collaborative Economy

Vision Critical’s cloud-based software uncovers key insight by engaging 90K web users in three countries

The collaborative economy, companies like Airbnb, Uber and Kickstarter present a serious threat to big brands

Use of sharing sites is growing, mainstream and satisfying, especially among digital natives

SAN FRANCISCO & VANCOUVER, British Columbia--()--Crowd Companies, a brand council founded by Jeremiah Owyang primarily focusing on the collaborative economy movement, and Vision Critical, the leading provider of insight community technologies, have exclusively partnered to release a groundbreaking report, “Sharing is the New Buying: How to Win in the Collaborative Economy ,” which for the first time maps the size and characteristics of the movement. Based on responses from more than 90,000 Internet users across the U.S., U.K. and Canada, the report concludes that sharing online through sites like Airbnb, Uber and Kickstarter is growing, mainstream, pragmatic and satisfying, and as a result, has become a competitive threat to large corporations.

Also known as the sharing economy, the sharing or trading of goods and services between customers—enabled by a new set of websites and applications—is growing rapidly and already represents 40 percent of the American adult population. As this new generation of customers continues to grow and challenge established businesses, companies will increasingly need to turn to their customers for valuable insight and collaborate with them to make more informed and customer-centric decisions.

Comments on the News

  • “The collaborative economy is no longer a niche phenomenon, and it’s quickly growing. Some areas will have double-digit growth, like used goods. As a result, this will disrupt traditional retail and other customer-driven organizations,” said Jeremiah Owyang, founder of Crowd Companies. “Through this deep-dive report, we now have a very clear picture of how many people are sharing and who these people are—and they look a lot like the mainstream population. It is time for companies to start planning for a new era in which their customers are also producers and want to do business with brands who get the value of sharing.”
  • “The rise of the collaborative economy and its promised growth prove that this new way of doing business is starting to become a significant challenge for big brands,” said Andrew Reid, president, founder and chief product officer of Vision Critical. “Sharing is taking away huge chunks of market share in many areas of the economy, including hospitality, automotive and financial services. Vision Critical Insight Communities enable large enterprises to participate directly in the collaborative economy by engaging with their customers for feedback on how to build better products, deliver better customer service and make better business decisions.”
  • “What’s striking is not just how many people are sharing, but how much the collaborative economy is poised to grow,” said Alexandra Samuel, vice president of social media at Vision Critical. “Not only because sharing is widespread among the younger population, but because a lot of people plan to try new types of sharing in the next 12 months. Word of mouth drives most sharing, and buyers in particular are so happy with their experience of sharing sites, that we are going to see a virtuous circle in which sharing drives recommendations, and recommendations drive more sharing.”

VC Voice of Market communities used to reveal critical trends

Vision Critical’s VC Voice of Market communities enabled the authors of the “Sharing is the New Buying: How to Win in the Collaborative Economy” report to define the size and characteristics of the collaborative economy by engaging in real time with a multitude of customers across the U.S., U.K. and Canada.

Vision Critical’s cloud-based platform helps companies continuously engage with their customers to get the direct and ongoing feedback they need to drive new product development, advertising campaigns, internal and external communications, programing and other significant business decisions. By giving customers a voice through an insight community, businesses are better able to deliver the products and services their customers want to buy.

Collaborative economy companies such as Airbnb, Uber and Kickstarter threaten big brands

The rapid growth of sharing sites including Airbnb, Uber and Kickstarter, as well as sites like Lyft, Rent the Runway, Lending Club, Citi Bike and LiquidSpace, has resulted in increased competition for large, traditional businesses, including hotel chains, cab companies and financial institutions, particularly among 18-34 year olds.

Forty percent of 200 million American adults already participate in the sharing of goods and/or services online.

And, the report shows that the intent to share is on the rise. About 50 percent of people have used a sharing site in the past 12 months. Sharing has also proven to be more convenient, cost effective and higher quality to users—attributes previously associated with established businesses.

Sharing is growing, mainstream and satisfying, especially among younger, more affluent customers

Crowd Companies and Vision Critical looked at five major categories of sharing including goods, services, transportation, space and money. About 15 percent of the U.S. and Canadian adult population, known as “re-sharers,” only use sharing sites to buy and sell used goods on sites like eBay and Craigslist. In the U.K., this group accounts for 29 percent of the population. Another quarter of the population is “neo-sharers.” These individuals use sharing services to find vacation homes, locate professional services and borrow money. The report highlights the following four major findings that counter common perceptions of the sharing economy today:

Sharing is Growing

  • In every category of sharing except buying and selling pre-owned goods, at least as many people intend to share in the next 12 months as have shared in the past 12 months.
  • Neo-sharing could double in the next year. In all neo-sharing categories, there are roughly equal numbers of recent and prospective users.
  • Buying and selling pre-owned products is a gateway to other forms of used sharing with about 15 percent of non-sharers planning to try a re-sharing site in the next 12 months.

Sharers are Mainstream

  • Americans, Canadians and Brits participate in neo-sharing at nearly the same rate, but re-sharing is more widespread in the U.K.
  • Women are more likely to participate in re-sharing (55%), but both men and women actively share across re-sharing and neo-sharing sites.
  • Neo-sharers are more likely to be between 18 to 34 years old (50%) and are somewhat more affluent.

Sharing is Pragmatic

  • Sharing is driven by practical considerations like convenience (cited by almost 75% of neo-sharers) and price (55% of neo-sharers).
  • Product or service quality (cited by nearly 50% neo-sharers) and the ability to find something that is not available elsewhere (40% of neo-sharers) also come out on top as reasons for sharing.

Sharing is Satisfying

  • Over 90 percent of sharers say they would recommend their most recently used sharing service to a friend or colleague.
  • Three in four buyers are very or extremely happy with their experience in using a sharing site.

More information

Read more about the growth of the collaborative economy and learn how businesses can get in on the economic trend by incorporating an insight community into their competitive strategy by reading the report, “Sharing is the New Buying: How to Win in the Collaborative Economy.”


This report is based on two surveys conducted between October 2013 and January 2014 by Vision Critical VC Voice of Market with participants from the U.S., U.K. and Canada, ages 18 and over. The initial survey of more than 90,000 respondents provided data on the overall incidence, frequency and nature of participation in the collaborative economy. The questions regarding the collaborative economy were embedded in a general omnibus survey covering a variety of topics. The topic of the collaborative economy was not mentioned in the invitation to the survey. A follow-up survey of over 2,500 sharers provided deeper insight into the nature of participation in the collaborative economy, and in particular, on respondents’ most recent sharing transactions.

The data is demographically representative of the adult (18+) populations of the U.S., U.K. and Canada. The results were weighted by age, gender, region and education, to be representative of the demographics of each nation. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 0.3% for the sample of 90,112 and +/- 2% for the sample of 2,517, 19 times out of 20. For more information on the survey methodology please contact:

About Crowd Companies

Crowd Companies exists to be a catalyst for change at large companies. We invite senior executives, innovators, product managers, marketers, operations leaders, sustainability leaders, social business strategists and others to apply.

About Vision Critical

Vision Critical is the world’s leading provider of insight communities, currently supporting over 650 brands worldwide. We build software and provide comprehensive services that empower organizations to engage groups of customers and stakeholders on a continuous basis for the express purpose of extracting and managing insight to drive better, faster business decisions. Learn more about the fastest-growing solution in market intelligence, meet our global partners and view our client stories at Follow us on Twitter at


Vision Critical
Jenny Smelyanets, 212-402-8238

Release Summary

Crowd Companies, Vision Critical release first report profiling the collaborative economy. Vision Critical’s cloud-based software uncovers key insight--sharing is growing and a threat to big brands.


Vision Critical
Jenny Smelyanets, 212-402-8238