How Digital Natives and Digital Migrants Engage with the Sharing Economy Online
Digital Natives vs. Digital Migrants
Who They Are
“Digital natives” are people (age 18 – 34) who grew up with the internet — they are often likened to the millennial age group.
“Digital migrant” (aged 35+) are those who have had to learn the language of technology to adapt to a digitally connected world.
How They Share
Digital natives are more active in the sharing economy overall, and are more comfortable sharing a free couch with travellers or funding their favorite projects and causes.
Digital migrants are less likely to participate in the sharing economy overall, but are more highly engaged with home swapping and peer-to-peer lending sites.
Sizing Up the Sharing Economy
From humble beginnings, the sharing economy has emerged as a worldwide movement that continues to shape the global economy.
The sharing economy is defined by a peer-to-peer exchange of values such as facilities, money, goods and information.
Thousands of sharing economy companies have sprouted up around the world, and consumers are actively engaging in collaborative consumption. According to PwC, 44% of all adults in the US are aware of the sharing economy and 19% have engaged in a sharing economy transaction.
Hitwise found that sharing economy websites got over 3X the number of visits in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the same time in 2014.
The sharing economy has affected many major industries including transportation, travel and retail. We are going to examine two sectors—space sharing and financial sharing—as case studies of how digital natives and digital migrants are engaging with collaborative consumption.
Is the sharing economy only relevant to digital natives, who were already raised connecting with their peers online? Maybe not.
Deep Dive: Space Sharing
The space sharing economy refers to people who share or rent spaces such as homes, rooms or offices, in order to support travelers or people who need a space temporarily. During the first three months of 2016, more than 143 million Americans visited a leading space sharing site.
Who Over-Indexes for Which Sites?
Visits to space sharing sites have skyrocked by 169% since 2014.
The financial sharing economy allows people to fund, share and distribute money to invest in a chosen venture or project. In the first quarter of 2016 there were over 107 million visits to top financial sharing sites, suggesting a cultural shift towards a more collaborative financial ecosystem.
Who Over-Indexes for Which Sites?
The number of visits to top financial sharing sites jumped 329% in the last two years.
What Can Brands Learn?
1. The sharing economy is growing at an exponential rate. It is imperative for brands to consider how to support and participate in collaborative consumption, rather than compete against it.
2. Although digital natives are more likely to engage with the sharing economy overall, digital migrants represent more visits to space sharing sites, particularly home-swapping sites that support more luxury family vacations. Digital natives, meanwhile, use space sharing as a way to meet and connect with people, by seeking collaborative workspaces and sharing their homes with weary travelers for free.
3. Digital natives use the financial sharing economy to express their values by funding projects, causes and products they care about. In contrast, digital migrants use financial sharing for peer-to-peer lending and alternative investment options. They also have relatively greater buying power, thus represent a huge potential market for sharing economy growth.