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The rise of collaborative consumption

The rise of collaborative consumption

With the use of social networking and cyber-technology quickly rising, businesses are unknowingly partaking in collaborative consumption, suggests Rachel Botsman, a social innovator who writes business books and runs seminars about the power of collaboration.

Collaborative consumption is disrupting outdated models of business and reinventing what and how we consume. It gives meaning to the ‘what’s mine is yours’ philosophy as businesses such as Trademe, eBay and even the recent introduction of Jobit enable peer-to-peer exchanges to almost any kind of asset whether it be skills, space or materials.

“Collaborative consumption is allowing us to consume more efficiently than ever before, presenting the opportunity for businesses to adapt to users’ wants and needs much faster than traditional business models”, says Tony Wai, managing director and founder of Crackerjacks Contracting.

In her seminar, The currency of the new collaborative economy is trust, Botsman reveals that collaborative consumption is made up of three key systems that make it work.

Redistribution Markets

The term “swap training” refers to the coincidence of wants where a used or pre-used item is taken from where it is undesired to somewhere where it is. Botsman refers to redistribution markets as the 5th ‘r’ in reduce, reuse, recycle, repair and redistribute because these markets stretch the life cycle of a product and in turn, reduce waste.

This system can be simplified to the age old saying, “what is one person’s trash is another person’s treasure”, says Botsman.

Collaborative Lifestyles

Collaborative lifestyles highlight the sharing of resources like money, skills and time without sacrificing lifestyles. It is essentially taking us back to a period of borrowing and sharing rather than outright ownership, allowing us to live healthier lifestyles, improve our economy systems and save money all while having access to the resources that we need.

Product/Service Systems

This is where we pay for the benefit of the product (ie; what it does for you) without needing to own the product outright. It can be very effective with materials that have high idling capacity ie; baby goods, fashions, power drills etc. People who rent these materials out make money from them.

The three key systems come together to enable people to share common resources without sacrificing lifestyles or personal freedom. It can also prove to be an entrepreneurial and business strategy when launching a company.

Think sharing, swapping and trading as a business advantage. Think Trademe – your online site that, while delivering an experience that allows you to make large purchases without actually moving, can still be damaging to your wallet.

“It’s bartering, and trading revolutionised to suit ‘the facebook age”, says Wai. “People are going to start sharing tools, cars and even houses because it’s more cost efficient”, he says.

Collaborative consumption is said to have encouraged businesses to think outside the traditional business box.

“People are becoming more creative and moving away from traditional business practice, they are realising that something big can be made out of any simple idea”, says Wai, who discovered the concept of collaborative consumption when developing Crackerjacks, an online recruitment solution for business and contractors.

“Crackerjacks stemmed from the collaborative consumption idea of sharing; creating a channel extension that provides an online platform for businesses, contractors and recruiters to connect in one place”, says Wai.

Wai suggests that even contractors are embracing the collaborative consumption trend. “Contractors are essentially in a skill-sharing economy. They share their skills with businesses that require a service and then move on to share some more with other companies”, he says.

Collaborative consumption is about the ‘we, not me’ mantra. “At the moment we measure our wealth by our assets, but collaborative consumption allows us to view access to things as being more practical and better than ownership”, says Wai.


• Crackerjacks is an online solution to professional contracting. In essence the website connects businesses with professional contractors. After launching in Auckland in October 2008, it is used in Auckland, Waikato and Wellington. The candidate database currently stands at 6722 contractor professionals. See website for more details

• Crackerjacks Contracting has been undergoing an entire site transformation over the past 6 months re-launched their new initiative on October 1st 2012

• Tony Wai is the Managing Director and Founder of Crackerjacks Contracting. He first launched Crackerjacks after experiencing frustration when searching for contractor talent

• Rachel Botsman is a social innovator who writes, consults and speaks on the power of collaboration and sharing through network technologies. She has inspired a new consumer economy with her influential book What's Mine is Yours: How Collaborative Consumption Is Changing The Way We Live. TIME Magazine recently called Collaborative Consumption one of the "10 Ideas That Will Change The World".

• Rachel’s presentation “The currency of the new collaborative economy is trust” can be found at


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