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The sharing economy, a rising pattern in consumption behavior that is based on accessing and reusing products to utilize idle capacity, presents both tremendous possibilities and significant threats for emerging as well as incumbent businesses. As of today, it is unclear whether this economy is merely another ephemeral trend in consumption or whether we are experiencing a real shift in how goods are accessed, distributed, and used. Furthermore, little is known about how existing business models are affected by the sharing economy. These two issues represent the central motivation for the development of this article. Consequently, an examination of why the sharing economy has the potential to produce a long-term transformation in consumption behavior is followed by a consideration of how this change might affect companies’ business models. Based on a renowned business model framework and a variety of current illustrative examples, we propose central questions managers must ask themselves in order to be prepared to respond to changes brought about by this new economic trend.
We have presented four reasons why the sharing economy is deemed a long-term amendment of consumption habits that widely affects how goods are produced, transferred, and consumed. The underlying attractiveness of sharing mostly lies within the tremendous speed in which people can consume, save, and exchange while at the same time receive an impression of community affiliation and sustainable action. This is specifically important because the intangible motivations to engage in the sharing economy often display tendencies toward becoming ‘‘more commercially-oriented over time’’ (Martin, Upham, & Budd, 2015, p. 247).