The “sharing economy” as we recognize it today started to grow and take hold during the Great Recession. Any time you use a peer-to-peer technology platform to acquire, provide, or share goods or services, you’re taking part in the sharing economy. In less techy speak, that means apps like Instacart, Lyft, and Rover — technology that you use to connect with others for the purpose of sharing skills, goods, and services.
The sharing economy has been criticized, especially recently, for its lack of regulation and sometimes unfair labor practices. Much of that criticism is valid, but we don’t see it as a reason to write off the entire sharing economy — instead, we see it as an imperfect system that has the capacity to create a lot of good. In particular, it seems like these apps have the ability to connect people in new ways — we think “sharing community” might even be a more accurate name.
To that end, we surveyed 1,000 Americans about how they use sharing economy apps, their feelings about apps versus traditional services, and how these apps have affected their local economies, personal relationships, and more.
Here’s a quick overview of some of the most interesting things we found:
- Food delivery and rideshare apps are the most commonly used, and more than half of Americans engage with them at least once per week.
- 78% of Americans enjoy the sharing economy more than traditional alternatives. 72% trust it more.
- 89% of Americans say peer-to-peer service apps are good for their local economies.
- 83% say the sharing economy helps them feel more connected to their communities.
More than Half of People Use Sharing Economy Apps At Least Once a Week
It’s not surprising that the sharing economy has grown to comprise a large share of the way we do business with one another. According to our survey, more than half of Americans — 56.7% — say they use a sharing economy app at least once per week.
Interestingly, while around one in five Americans reported that they only use sharing economy apps a handful of times per year, no one answered that they never use them. Every respondent to our survey reported using sharing economy apps at least once in a while.
Food delivery and rideshare are the most commonly used apps
Another not-so-surprising finding was that food delivery and rideshare were the most common reasons people turn to sharing economy apps. Also popular are grocery apps, used goods marketplaces, and vacation rental apps.
78% of People Enjoy the Sharing Economy More than Traditional Alternatives, and 72% Trust it More
Our survey showed that people tend to have a generally positive impression of the sharing economy. 77.9% of respondents said that they “always” or “usually” enjoy tech-enabled services more than traditional alternatives (for example, Airbnb over a hotel, or Uber over a traditional taxi).
The reasons people say they love the sharing economy were pretty evenly split across the board, with lower prices and better quality just edging out other reasons.
Another interesting finding was that 72% of our survey respondents said they trust the sharing economy more than they trust traditional alternatives.
This is backed up by previous research. A 2016 study showed that rideshare users were nearly as likely to trust their driver as they were to trust a friend or family member — 88% indicated high trust in their drivers, while 92% indicated high trust in friends and 94% indicated high trust in family members. Researchers found that users’ trust was based on seeing their driver’s profile, with a photo and contact information attached, as well as the mutual rating systems used by many sharing economy apps.
83% of Americans Say Sharing Economy Apps Make Them Feel More Connected to their Community
While survey respondents said their top reasons for loving the sharing economy was getting better value for their money and getting high-quality goods and services, it’s clear that there’s a community aspect at play, too.
When asked directly if using sharing economy apps makes them feel more connected to their local community, 83.2% of respondents said yes.
Even more — 89% — felt that using sharing economy apps was better for their local economies than relying on big businesses and corporations.
That community connection is real when you look at how our survey respondents said sharing economy apps have affected their social circles and personal relationships.
67% say they’ve met more new people because of the sharing economy
People are getting more than just goods and services from sharing economy apps. 66.9% of survey respondents said they’ve met new people through sharing economy apps, and 80% of respondents said they were willing to interact with new people who they met through these apps.
72% say the sharing economy has widened their social circle
Not only are people meeting new people through sharing economy apps, but they’re meeting people they might not have met otherwise. 72.4% of survey respondents said these apps have helped them meet diverse people outside of their usual social circles, of different races, genders, and religions than their own.
58% of americans have built a lasting relationship with someone from the sharing economy
And finally, some people are even taking their relationships off the apps. 57.9% of respondents said they’ve had such a positive experience with a sharing economy worker, they’ve built a lasting personal relationship with them. In some cases, that just means they hire them again for repeat business. But in some cases, relationships that begin on sharing economy apps are turning into real friendships. It doesn’t get much more neighborly than that.
Using Pollfish.com, we surveyed 1,000 Americans on May 17, 2021.
They were 50% male and 50% female.
- 16.6% ages 16-17;
- 16.7% ages 18-24;
- 16.7% ages 25-34;
- 16.6% ages 35-44;
- 16.6% ages 45-54;
- 16.8% ages 55 and older.
Respondents came from 48 states and the District of Columbia.