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Leveraging Peer-To-Peer to Enhance your Brand’s Vitality

Leveraging Peer-To-Peer to Enhance your Brand's Vitality

Whether through added services, resale marketplaces or showrooms, brands are increasingly recognizing the imperative to make a P2P Play in order to enhance their overall customer experience and create more meaningful, long-lasting relationships with consumers

Consumerism, Reimagined

In Venezuela today, access to literature has become increasingly scarce due to political turmoil. Citizens have found a way around this through: A book exchange platform called Macondo Club. Through this service, residents can request a book and get matched with a volunteer living outside of the country who is planning to travel to their city and would bring it along in their luggage. 

This is just one example of a Peer-to-Peer Play—where citizens (otherwise known as consumers) are leveraging distributed platforms that allow them to receive knowledge, services and resources for free, for a fee, or through bartering and exchanging value in various forms. From ride-shares to recommendations and resource rental to resale marketplaces, these peer-based methods of interaction and exchange are taking off across categories.

In this analysis piece by the research team at PSFK, we explore the global rise of P2P Play, the consumer behaviors and desires driving its increased popularity, and what businesses looking to implement the model should consider.

The Rise of The Conscious Consumer

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One of the drivers for the increased interest in P2P is conscious consumerism, which the peer-based method of exchange is particularly poised to serve. As more consumers awaken to the realities of late-stage capitalism, they are seeking accessibility, connectivity and community, rather than frequent payments or longer-term ownership (1). Just last year, around 60.1 million Americans booked ride-share services like Uber, and 41 million used home-shares like Airbnb during their travels (2). Now, people are approaching other forms of consumption with a more conscious awareness of how resources are used and obtained, applying the sharing and trading models of exchange to everyday commodities and spaces in the name of sustainability:

3 P2P Play Platforms Enabling Conscious Consumption: 

  • Idle lets users rent out idle items, from power tools to kayaks, by the hour or by the day
  • Tinker Kitchen offers access to fully equipped commercial-grade kitchens for learning and experimenting with food 
  • Green Power Exchange enables consumers to sell or trade solar and wind power with one another 

A Look At The Growth of Peer-To-Peer Platforms

Shifting attitudes towards ownership and increased demand for access to decentralized goods, services and resources have given rise to a slew of peer-to-peer platforms. From fashion and automotive to hospitality and consumer electronics, the popularity of P2P exchange is only increasing. In fact, the number of people who participate in the sharing economy is projected to increase to 86.5 million by 2021, from 44.8 million U.S. adults in 2016 (3). Meanwhile, the total sharing economy is forecasted to be worth $300 billion by 2025 (4).

Beyond its growth in participants and value, the peer-to-peer space has also widened in concept. In China in particular, where the concept has evolved from its nascent form of peers exchanging idle resources, citizens can now conveniently access P2P services via WeChat by simply scanning a QR code via their phones or logging on to the apps or sites.

Transforming Behaviors & Business Models 

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Peer-to-peer platforms are allowing people to connect with each other in new ways; they are supporting, sharing, selling and collaborating with one another across borders and socio-economic classes while helping owners and creators become entrepreneurs, creative professionals, side hustlers and more. 

Taking note, businesses are adapting to these changing behaviors and models, responding with innovative solutions to stay relevant and valuable. For example, Craigslist created an app that provides a similar experience to the desktop site, with the aim to offer more convenient mobile access to its peer-to-peer marketplace listings as well as the ability to easily contact listers via text or call.

Other P2P pioneers like eBay and Goodwill have built authentication features into their platforms to ensure end-to-end trust.

How P2P is Building the New Economy

Peer-to-peer platforms have the opportunity to help redesign the way that individuals interact with both companies and each other, as well as how society and cities function at large. And while these platforms equip people with the tools needed to co-create a more collaborative, creative and shared economy, they are also redefining what it means to be a consumer-facing business. 

As a response, brands and retailers are finding creative ways to take part in the burgeoning peer-to-peer sharing economy. One way is through new partnerships: Collabs like Porsche x Turo and Floyd x Airbnb allow the respective auto and home brands to benefit from a peer-to-peer platform as a way to turn consumers into brand advocates, incentivizing those who act as ‘hosts’ to share their experiences. Other retailers are developing their own platforms, providing benefits like enabling shoppers to connect with expert support and to assist with the purchase decision-making process. H&M did so with its online platform Itsaspark, which connects shoppers with a community of peers to give and receive fashion advice.

A New Code for Brand Conduct 

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Given the mutually beneficial exchange that occurs between peers on the platforms, brands will need to recognize the core qualities of trust and fairness involved in developing these relationships. 

If brands want to play a role in these platforms, first they’ll need to start acting like peers. And, the sooner that legacy brands can understand the evolving landscape and implement new services, products or platform offerings that enhance the peer-to-peer relationship and lifestyle, the better positioned they’ll be for the future. 

How Can You Leverage A P2P Play Now?

To get started, PSFK analysts suggest that some opportunities include: 

  • Turning customers into entrepreneurs
    Add an entrepreneurial layer to the ownership experience and offer customers seamless methods of resale to offset the costs. This way, brands can empower consumers to gain from their purchases.
  • Deepening existing relationships
    Serve consumers who may not be able to afford a tangible asset and prefer to temporarily rent from a peer by creating a positive brand experience through an added layer of service, such as guidance, education, and maintenance or repair. 
  • Incentivizing the investment
    Leverage distributed platforms as a way to incentivize a larger percentage of consumers to purchase high-cost goods. This can look like letting customers earn money back from the equipment or resources they purchased by renting or sharing when not in use.

Whether through added services, resale marketplaces or showrooms, brands are increasingly recognizing the imperative to make a peer-to-peer play in order to enhance their overall customer experience and create more meaningful, long-lasting relationships with consumers.

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