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Study: Views of the Sharing Economy Differ Dramatically By Generation

New study reveals how different generations feel about the new wave of businesses and apps, such as Uber and Airbnb

A decade ago, if your friend told you they were getting a ride home from an absolute stranger just from pressing a button on their smartphone, you probably would have questioned their sanity, and then probably called the police. A decade ago, staying at someone else’s house when they weren’t there would have been called either couch surfing or squatting, depending on the scenario.

Views of the Sharing for blog

Now, companies like Uber, Lyft and Airbnb have become accepted, embraced, and even, in some cases, synonymous with the service they provide. For the youngest generation, Gen Z – also known as Generation Z, iGen, or Centennials – they have never known a time before you leveraging your own car or an extra bedroom in your home was a viable business option.

Another way to think about it: Uber has been pairing drivers and passengers since the oldest members of Gen Z were in middle school.

“Uber, Lyft, and other shared service providers are the solution that Gen Z expects,” says Jason Dorsey, Millennial and Gen Z expert and President at The Center for Generational Kinetics. “Many members of Gen Z will not remember a time before they could get in an Uber on the way to a concert, see a friend or come home from a night out.”

Because of this, even calling or hailing cabs seems old fashioned to them.

Safety First

Considering much of Gen Z is still in high school, their concern with safety regarding these sharing services is surprising. Gen Z says that their #1 source of trust for sharing economy service providers such as Uber and Lyft are background checks. Sixty-three percent of Gen Z cites this as one the top three most important things and 28% cite it as the most important. This is more than any other generation and gets a higher score than any other trust factor, including online ratings and reviews.

This is a huge revelation, and one that these companies must be aware of: to attract and keep the business of this new generation, their people need to complete background checks, and this should be heavily advertised.

Gen Z also reported caring more about a service carrying insurance than any other generation. In fact, 11% of Gen Z—nearly twice as much as any other generation—reports that the #1 way a sharing company can earn their trust is to have insurance for users.

It must be restated that these are 14 to 19 year olds. Today’s teenagers care more about their Uber driver having the right car insurance in case they get into a car accident than any other age group, including their parents!

Another big generational gap: 25% of Baby Boomers don’t trust shared service providers at all, more than any other generation.

While it may seem contradictory that Gen Z both loves and embraces new technology, yet has stridently conservative views when it comes to online privacy, we see that both of these attitudes converge appropriately with their attitudes about the sharing economy. We believe that the generation’s competing comfort with shared economy services and security concerns will lead to the best possible outcome for this industry.

Read all the surprising findings from our national study on Gen Z and technology here.

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