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Maru/Matchbox Study Finds: Lack of Trust Threatens Growth of the Sharing Economy

Crowdfunding, Car Sharing, Space to Stay, and Professional Services all see flat to lower growth from 2015 to 2017 but comfort level is higher among millennials

NEW YORK, NEW YORK -- (Marketwired) -- 04/20/17 -- A lack of trust and a fear for safety on the part of consumers is threatening the growth of the "sharing economy," according to research(i) released today by Maru/Matchbox, a market insights firm.

The report, The Battle for Trust and the Sharing Economy, found that in categories including Crowdfunding, Pre-owned Goods, Borrowing or Lending Cars & Bikes, and Space to Stay, participation by consumers was down or flat in the period February 2015 through February 2017, in stark contrast to nearly 50 percent annual growth in its early days. Asked "overall, how trustworthy do you think sharing companies are?" just a third consider them "trustworthy."

"There is a clear issue with trust when it comes to consumers and the sharing economy, and is having a negative impact on the growth of the industry broadly," said David Gardner, Managing Director, Technology & Retail, at Maru/Matchbox. "Companies participating in these market opportunities need to address this challenge if they want to continue to grow."

Concern over safety is another consideration further suppressing growth, according to the study. For example, 30 percent of those consumers cite Crowdfunding as "not safe," 28 percent said the same about Car Services, and 31 percent considered Space to Stay not safe.

The good news: Millennials are different

The good news for the industry is that millennials demonstrate a higher level of comfort with the sharing economy. This lucrative group is engaging with 'sharing' companies at a rate roughly three times higher than those 35 years of age and up, a trend that was consistent across all categories, according to the Maru/Matchbox research. Here, too, there were trust issues, however, and millennials were more likely to report having problems with their sharing economy experiences, with three in ten saying that they have experienced poor service, service not as advertised, or unprofessionalism, according to the study.

Nonetheless, millennials are attracted to the sharing economy because they believe it saves them both time and money, a compelling value proposition, notes Gardner. In the study, almost 70 percent agreed that the "ability to pay via smartphone app and website is one of the major reasons I use the sharing economy." For those 55 years old and up, just one in five agreed with that statement.

In spite of the trust issue, one category did see growth over the period: Car services. Participation in the category was up from 7 percent to 18 percent from 2015 to 2017.

"We've had a period of tremendous growth in the sharing economy, but it's now showing signs of starting to plateau. Convenience is great, but for many people a lack of trust will trump cost and ease of access," said Gardner. "There's a tug of war going on here. It's clear that re-establishing trust will be critical to returning the sharing economy to growth."

About Maru/Matchbox

Maru/Matchbox, a Maru Group company, has been pushing the boundaries of the customer market insights space for over a decade. We combine deep sector expertise with cloud-based customer insights communities, and take a results-focused, consultative approach to helping clients better understand what motivates their customers and influences their markets, so they can act decisively and win.

About Maru Group

Maru Group is a technology enabled professional services firm delivering information and insight services. Operating in multiple countries, MARU Group provides research, insight and advisory services to large enterprises across a broad spectrum of industries and markets. Founded in 2016, Maru Group's core area of expertise is providing fast and strategic customer feedback to corporates through a variety of technology platforms. Led by market intelligence industry veteran Ged Parton, Maru Group is backed by Primary Capital Partners LLP, a United Kingdom-based provider of private equity finance for high potential and growth companies.

(i) The data cited here is based on 1,005 interviews conducted across a nationally representative audience of 18+ year olds in the U.S.

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