Younger generation using sharing economy platforms for social benefit

Younger people are much more likely to engage with a sharing economy for social benefits, a new study finds.

Just 9 per cent of British adults used a sharing economy platform for a good cause in the last year, according to new research.

The nationwide survey, carried out by TNS Global, gauges user behaviour in mainstream and social purpose platforms and, for the first time, assesses the level of appetite for social purpose platforms in the future.

The collaborative economy is defined as using digital technologies to access goods, services and knowledge from people-powered networks and marketplaces. The sector is often referred to as the ‘sharing economy’, with much of the mainstream debate focussed on commercial considerations and less attention being placed on how these technologies and business models can drive social and environmental value and change.

The research confirms that uptake of social purpose platforms is low across the country and reveals which groups are most likely to engage with them.

While nearly a third of 16-34 year olds have used a collaborative economy platform for ‘a good cause’ in the past 12 months, only 6 per cent of all British adults surveyed accessed support for themselves, or community, from someone else in this way.

Also, when it comes to the use of such platforms for health and care support, only 3 per cent of adults aged 55+ have used one.

As 87 per cent of people have not used a collaborative platform to access support from someone else or to offer support to others, the survey shows that some 45 million Britons are not yet aware of the potential benefits.

Helen Goulden, executive director of the Innovation Lab at Nesta, thinks that entrepreneurs from all sectors are showing us new and exciting ways of harnessing the sharing economy for commercial needs.

She says, ‘The popularity of sharing economy platforms like Airbnb and Uber remain undimmed, with billions being invested into digital commercial platforms that enable people to access the things they need in different ways. While these disruptive businesses raise important issues, we’ve become utterly fixated with an incredibly narrow definition of the sharing economy.

‘That nearly a quarter of the population have an appetite to engage in new platforms that deliver real social impact is heartening, to say the least.’

Further reading on social platforms

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

Related Topics

Sharing economy