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Auction culture and sharing

| collaborative consumption, Help | October 24, 2012

I’ve been reading about “auction culture” recently and it seems particularly relevant to sharing.

Auction culture is one aspect of e-bay’s impact on buying decisions. People are increasingly aware that some luxury items can be sold after a year or so for a high percentage of the original price. So when they want a new version, or if they decide they don’t need the item after all, they know they can recover much of the original cost. This can make the item better value than something that actually costs much less. So buying a Louis Vuitton handbag can be more cost effective than is immediately apparent to many people (and all men). Or, as explained in Futureshop by Daniel Nissanoff , how a $750 stroller (£350 pushchair to us Brits) can be the cheapest child transport option

So how are these trends relevant to sharing? The second-hand value of luxuries, together with a place to trade them, means that sharing this kind of item is also an investment. Deciding to buy together is an easier and less risky decision if you know this you can always recover a substantial part of the original investment.

The auction culture also opens the door to fractional ownership of a much wider range of goods than just property, boats, aircraft markets. This is particularly true of the highest quality examples of infrequently used assets. Over the next couple of years I expect to see more people sharing designer clothes and handbags, high quality equipment of all types, such as gym equipment, sewing machines, specialist tools; and high value jewellery.

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