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Over a third of Britons likely to embrace the “sharing economy”

However, Britons only half as willing as people globally to rent out personal assets for income
Highlights rising global trend in ‘micro-entrepreneurs’ and renting items rather than buying outright

London – 5 June 2014 – Over a third (37%) of British consumers online are willing to take advantage of the growing phenomenon of the “sharing economy” in which people use specialist websites to rent out assets they own – according to a new study by Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy.

Also known as peer-to-peer rental, the sharing economy – whose profile has been raised by enterprises such as property rental site Airbnb – enables people to capitalise on the unused capacity of personal assets, such as homes, cars or sports equipment, by renting them out to fellow consumers for income.

The Nielsen Global Survey of Share Communities, which polled more than 30,000 Internet respondents in 60 countries, shows that despite the desire of 37% of Britons to embrace the phenomenon, they trail the 54% of Europeans and 68% of people globally who would do the same.

Within Europe, southern countries tend to be the most willing to use the sharing economy, ahead of northern and eastern Europe, while western countries tend to be the least willing to participate.

E.g. 68% of global respondents are willing to rent out their own items to others for payment.

“The sharing economy’s rise in popularity is due to a mix of three factors,” says Nielsen group managing director for UK & Ireland Chris Morley. “A new wave of internet entrepreneurs; people’s increasing comfort at sharing more of their lives online; and the increasing need to earn or save money because of wider financial pressures. In effect, these leading entrepreneurs are enabling everyone else to become micro-entrepreneurs by making regular money from assets they already own.”

Who and what makes up the sharing economy?

While men and women in the UK are equally likely to rent out their personal items, women are a little more reluctant to rent from others. The willingness to do so decreases with age – 56% of people under 30 are willing, compared to just 13% of people over 60.

The most popular assets likely to be offered are: services/lessons (by 19% of people willing to participate), power tools (by 17%) and cars (16%). One in nine (11%) are willing to rent out their home.

E.g. 37% of UK male respondents are willing to rent out their own items to others for payment

“The act of renting from peers rather than buying or hiring from companies is giving rise to an economic revolution that may have a big impact on traditional businesses,” continues Morley. “Forbes estimated that $3.5 billion went directly into people’s wallets last year via the shared economy, with growth exceeding 25%. As a result, hotel and taxi companies in major US cities are already legally challenging shared economy services.

“Smart companies will harness the advantages of sharing services into their own products and services. Car manufacturers such as Volkswagen and General Motors have invested in car-sharing apps; the idea being, the more you get a ride in their cars, the more likely you’ll be to buy one in the future.”

Morley concludes: “Consumers are becoming savvier about saving money at a time when the internet has facilitated greater opportunities to rent products. The take-up of music- and film-streaming services such as Spotify and Netflix is testament to this. The sharing economy is the evolution of this ‘pay-as-you-go’ mind-set: why buy something I may only use a handful of times, when renting allows me to save money and storage space.”

About the Nielsen Global Survey

The Nielsen Global Survey of Share Communities was conducted between August 14 and September 6, 2013, and polled more than 30,000 online consumers in 60 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and North America. The sample has quotas based on age and sex for each country based on their Internet users, and is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers and has a maximum margin of error of ±0.6%. This Nielsen survey is based on the behaviour of respondents with online access only. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60 percent Internet penetration or 10M online population for survey inclusion. The Nielsen Global Survey, which includes the Global Consumer Confidence Index, was established in 2005.

About Nielsen

Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence and mobile measurement. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA, and Diemen, the Netherlands.