After years of double-digit growth, the number of Americans who say they will use “sharing economy” services like ride-hailing, home rentals and co-working this summer, has flattened, according to a new poll by Ipsos on behalf of Allianz Global Assistance.
One factor in that downtick is that slightly fewer people say they trust shared services than they did last year. Yet, more Americans than ever (83%) are familiar with at least one of the services tested in the survey. Nonetheless, when comparing these newer services with conventional options, Americans say the traditional services offer an equal or better overall experience while sharing services are more authentic local experience and a better value.
Now that the sharing economy industry is maturing, it appears that consumers are holding them to a higher bar.
“Traditional players have made improvements in their services to compete with peer-to-peer competitors, while more consumers are giving shared services a try,” says Chris Jackson, vice president, U.S. Ipsos Public Affairs. “Now that consumers have more options to compare, both segments have higher consumer standards to live up to.”
Among millennials, 41% of respondents say sharing economy services are better value for money, although that figure slipped two points. They also maintain that peer-to-peer services offer a more authentic local experience (33%) when put up against traditional services. Yet that number fell 12 points.
Satisfaction criteria for shared services fell slightly or was flat in every category but one; customer support when things go wrong. Two in five believe traditional services provide better customer support when things go south, down four points from last year. Traditional services gained slightly in booking experience and value.
Millennials especially shifted their opinions about traditional services compared to a year ago. One third of this generation say legacy providers offer the best overall experience, up 11 points compared to last year.
Other sharing economy indicators show growth
While the survey shows slowing enthusiasm, many “sharing economy” leaders are still growing at a fast pace. That could be the result of current users using the services more as well as maturing markets for these services.
“We know that Airbnb, Uber, Lyft are all still growing year over year,” says Robin Chase, founder and Former CEO, Zipcar and author of “Peers Inc.”
“While the individual questions about ease of booking and response to complaints might be better in “traditional” businesses, a key metric is “value for money” which is typically what drives decision-making,” she adds.
“All other indications are that the user base of Airbnb, Uber and Lyft are growing rapidly,” says Arun Sundarajan, professor of business at New York University Stern School of Business and author of “The Sharing Economy: The End of Employment and the Rise of Crowd-Based Capitalism.”
“As Airbnb, Uber and Lyft have become part of the cultural dialog, I have been seeing a shift in the use of sharing economy services away from millennials and towards the more general population,” he adds. “It points to a continued trend of such services moving from the fringes to the mainstream.”