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The Next Economy
'Smarter' Consumers Will Significantly Alter Economic Models and the Role of Brands

As the sharing economy continues to gain momentum worldwide, new research out this week from Havas Worldwide, that depicts a global population in search of a better way of living and consuming, shouldn’t come as much surprise.

70 percent of the 10,574 people surveyed in 29 countries* believe that overconsumption is putting our planet and society at risk; half say they could happily live without most of the items they own and two-thirds make it a point to rid themselves of unneeded possessions at least once a year.

We have entered an age when sharing everything from cars to vacation homes to textbooks to pets has become not only socially acceptable but commonplace, and the just released Prosumer Report, The New Consumer and the Sharing Economy, explores this wave of “smarter,” more discerning consumerism that is poised to significantly alter our economic models and the roles brands are expected to play. Highlights from the study include:

  • The vast majority of consumers surveyed believe our current economic models aren’t working, yet most are convinced that high levels of consumption are critical to economic growth. To ease their tension over this issue, they’re replacing guilt with purpose by buying products that are more durable and sustainable, sharing rather than owning, and paying more attention to the human elements of transactions.
  • This emerging way of thinking is driving a new economic model that focuses on community and collaborationover accumulation and ownership. 65 percent of respondents agree: “Our society would be better off
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    if people shared more and owned less.”
  • Millennials are embracing peer-to-peer transactions and crowdfunding, and more than a third already belong to a sharing service or expect to join one within the next year.
  • More than a third predict that city dwellers will be more likely to share than own a car by 2050 and most energy production will be in the hands of individual producers.
  • Though goods and services are being exchanged between individuals, there is plenty of scope for brand involvement. Three-quarters of respondents would like to see brands act as guarantors of the products individuals sell online.

“For a number of years, we’ve tracked the shift away from wasteful spending and toward a more mindful approach to consumption, but what we’re seeing now is much more proactive and hands-on,” said Andrew Benett, global CEO of Havas Worldwide and chief strategy officer of Havas Creative Group. “People aren’t just choosing Brand A over Brand B because it’s produced closer to home or treats its workers better. They're getting involved in the consumption cycle by contributing to the funding or even the creation of products they want and by reselling or renting out their unneeded possessions. They're creating new formats for the exchange of goods. And every step of the way, they are practicing ‘less is more,’ and savoring ‘less.’

Commonly Underestimated Elements of Building Circular Models

Hear insights from Dispatch Goods, Kohler and Returnity on navigating and overcoming common barriers to building effective circular models — including designing for the specific context of the spaces key stakeholders occupy, educating consumers on optimal consumption and disposal choices, fixing existing issues around the “last mile” of circular models, partnering to unlock both the creation and adoption of circular products and services, and more — Monday, Oct. 16, at SB'23 San Diego.

“The good news for marketers,” Benett added, “is that the data point to all sorts of ways in which brands can get involved in these new consumption models — as beacons of trust, as motivators of ‘good’ behavior, and as builders of community and connections. Our report points to a variety of brands that are already carving out niches for themselves within this space.”

*Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States and Vietnam.


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