Collaborative consumption - is it more about the people rather than the stuff?

This post comes with a cultural caveat...all examples are from the US which is in a very different place economically and emotionally right now compared to Australia.

Thanks to one of my favourite blogs influx insights, I came across this interesting post from an equally interesting blog (well worth a look)

Click here to see the post 7 ways to have more by owning less.

To break it down, there is a emerging trend in the US around the idea of 'collaborative consumption' (also known as reciprocal alturism at Stancombe). It is another branch of the de-clutter your life / less is more movement being driven by urban hipsters, life coaches and other social commentators. (see the very hipster video below from

Be as cynical as you like, but it appears this movement is gathering some traction in the US, see examples below from
If we step back and think about it, conspicuous consumption is inherently about broadcasting your status. Where as swapping and sharing goods/services (assuming you can afford to buy new stuff) is more about the relationships developed as a result of altruistic transactions. It could be argued that the altruistic transactions that help build the relationships between people are more important than the goods/services being shared, swapped and gifted.

I don't believe that we will see a shift away from conspicuous consumption (a nice pair of shoes and a good watch always does wonders for your confidence in a room full of strangers), but I do believe that swapping, sharing and gifting things like lawn mowers, never been used baby toys and food processors will tap into our fundamental human need for community, i.e. we are pack animals.

This raises an interesting business question - are you an industry where people would rather swap your goods/services rather than buy new in the future? And is this an opportunity or a threat?