Consumerism, put simply, is the desire to acquire, own and consume goods and services in excess of one’s basic needs. Economically speaking, encouraging consumer spending is a key driver of economic growth. Consumers benefit from the utility of the goods or services that they acquire, and businesses profit from the increased sales. As a result, increasing consumption appears synonymous with economic health. Or at least, in the traditional sense.
But, today’s consumers are changing. They are savvy, more knowledgeable and more socially-conscious. Instead of engaging with companies in a purely economic sense, they pursue communal, collaborative and social interactions with companies. They constantly reassess their priorities and the true value behind their intentions: Why own something that I have infrequent use for? Why accumulate possessions instead of experiences? Why earn a fixed salary when I can have various income options? Why work deskbound when I can work remotely?
This shift in consumer’s attitudes is what research firm Euromonitor termed as “new consumerism”. And a big part of this new consumerism is very much about sharing, predominantly evident in the sharing economy and the gig economy.
With traditional consumerism, an individual pays the full cost of a good or a service and owns the exclusive access to it. Sharing, on the other hand, allows multiple people access to a good or service simply by bearing its usage cost, without requiring the individuals to own it. Examples in the sharing economy include Airbnb, ride-sharing platforms and co-working spaces.
The concept of sharing permits consumers to consume what they need, while also allowing them to provide under utilized resources to others. This sustainable idea enables individuals to have a fair and equal opportunity to access resources, through sharing rather than ownership.
What about human resources? Can these be shared?
If you haven’t already heard about the gig economy, or think that it mainly consists of on-demand delivery and transportation jobs, think again. The gig economy is rewriting the reality of the employment market, where individuals offer their skilled services on a part-time basis to companies. These individuals aren’t just your Uber or Grab driver, they also happen to be your highly-proficient employees who have now ditched desk bound jobs for remote working.
This group of gig professionals provide exceptional skills that companies are struggling to find on the shrinking traditional labor market. They can be specialists in their own fields, or the much sought-after hybrid specialists who command a wider range of skill sets than traditionally required in their role (e.g. digital marketers). They present an opportunity for companies to get expert human resources quickly amidst a talent-strapped labor market, in order to adapt to a fast changing consumer landscape.
Today, as these white collar executives make the move from “employed professionals” to “entrepreneurial professionals” in the gig economy, they bring expertise and experiences that are shareable to just about any business in any industry.
The gig economy is fast gaining clout. Thanks to technological innovations and the Internet which has produced a mobile workforce that can work remotely anywhere.
Here are some reasons why companies are now looking for short-term expertise hire, and why workers are seeking varied work projects for better flexibility and experiences.
Perhaps more than ever, sharing is becoming more significant than owning. The gig economy and its world of talent sharing have opened up new opportunities for both companies and gig seekers alike. Companies want an agile and scalable workforce to meet evolving consumer demands. Gig seekers want an alternative work environment with greater autonomy and more meaningful work. This collaboration of companies and talents may just be that winning formula to ride through today’s tough waters of uncertainty and redefine the future of work.
There’s a better way to grow. And it’s not the traditional way.
It’s about rethinking traditional employment archetypes. Can we progress from an economy built on full time employment habitually enslaved by unemployment fears, to one where individuals have greater autonomy and are self motivated to do work that inspires them? And as a result, benefit the economy as a whole?
You can’t own full time employees. But you can build a winning team with talent management companies. As businesses demand more, external talents are emerging as the sure forerunners of an agile workforce. At Chance Upon, we partner businesses to get a head start over competition by creating collaborative work between companies and the right talents.
Marianna Sigala, The ‘sharing economy’ simply dresses up our consumerist tendencies in a more palatable ideology, (28 Jan 2019)
The New Consumerism: Redefining Ownership, Values and Priorities, Euromonitor International, (4 Apr 2016)
Mark Scott, What you need to know about consumerism, Swift Money (24 Apr 2017)
Judith Wallenstein, Alice de Chalendar, Martin Reeves, and Allison Bailey, The New Freelancers: Tapping Talents In The New Economy, BCG Henderson Institute (17 Jan 2019)
Robert Longley, Gig economy: Definition and Pros and Cons, ThoughtCo (15 Mar 2019)