Friday 28 March 2014

Shop where you borrow instead of buy - making do via the sharing economy...

                                                                                                                                  pic: Leila Berlin
According to The Guardian, the most popular items in Leila, Berlin's first "borrowing shop*" are the electric drills.

But it's not worth that person buying their own tools, said founder Nikolai Wolfert. "The average electric drill is used for 13 minutes in its entire lifetime – how does it make sense to buy something like that? It's much more efficient to share it."


Members can borrow anything from board games to wine glasses, fog machines to hiking rucksacks, juicers to unicycles. All they need to do to become members is drop off an item of their own.

Virtual tour of Leila here

Borrowing shops are under development in several Berlin districts, with similar projects being set up in Kiel and Vienna. In Berlin-Wedding, 80 artists are working with recycled materials to build Berlin's first "indoor treehouse", which will eventually serve as a "local public thinktank". In Neuk├Âlln, the Trial & Error culture lab organises swaps for artists' materials and fashion items.

At the more commercial end of the spectrum, Deutsche Telekom recently helped launch the social network, which allows neighbours to swap tools and services and sets up communal "toy boxes" in playgrounds around Berlin.

Whilst the idea of the "share-economy" is developing well elsewhere (i.e. Airbnb, which matches travellers to people with rooms to rent, and car2go and even M&S offering customers discounts in exchange for unwanted clothes, which are then donated to Oxfam) there is a sense that the shift away from ownership towards functionality is nowhere as tangible in Europe as in Berlin.

If you add share-economy drivers to consumers increasingly ‘making do’, it may begin to explain the difficulty of driving demand above flatline levels in many categories, everywhere…

And going back to drills, it is well known that drill manufacturers sell millions of ¾ inch drill-bits, not because people want drill-bits, but because they need ¾ inch holes, however produced...

In other words, the most insidious competition can be a product or service that replaces traditional ways of meeting needs. Therefore, training ourselves to focus on functionality and real need instead of want, can help us to anticipate and survive the shock of third-party innovation, hopefully….

* See video on how Leila works in practice here

No comments: