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Altimeter has recently published a white paper around the notion of a Collaborative Economy, meaning a new type of economy, which caters to consumers sharing information and services more frequently than ever. In the great age of social media, marketers all know that the customer journey has drastically evolved in large part due to consumers sharing experiences with each other. Collaborative Economy takes that concept a step further and suggests businesses should participate in this sharing by creating channels to do so via partnerships or building a business on an exchange from customer to another customer (think: Airbnb).
Altimeter provides an example of Patagonia partnering with eBay to encourage customers to resell their Patagonia goods. While Patagonia doesn’t own the exchange, as some businesses in the Collaborative Economy may, they’ve taken the reigns of a social and collaborative situation. Being one step ahead of this game (purchase) places them into the reselling equation as they never would have been before. This challenges our idea of competition as marketers. If we’re living in a Collaborative Economy, how should we, or our clients, look at the communication going on between consumers? Is it a hurdle? No. Is it an opportunity to influence? Sure. Is it a new way to define our interaction with consumers and other businesses? Hmmm.
The challenge with this new way of approaching consumer-to-consumer communication and exchange will, of course, be determining how to harness it. As the relevance of partnerships increases, creating a sense of authenticity, trust, cohesion within that partnership will be key. Businesses will need to really buy into the idea of allowing consumers to work amongst themselves or being tied to another company in order to create a new transaction. That’s quite a lot of working together for the average company.
A Collaborative Economy suggests that the nice guy might finally finish first.