How loyal are ‘sharing economy’ customers?

Paul HiebertData Journalist
June 07, 2016, 5:03 PM GMT+0

Data from YouGov Profiles shows that while customers of Uber, Airbnb, and Lyft are open to new ways of doing business, this openness can also lead to challenges

Although the so-called "sharing economy" still largely consists of young people living in big cities, the movement is growing in both public awareness and government acceptance.

Uber, for example, recently received a $3.5 billion investment from Saudi Arabia. Lyft has recruited sports stars Shaquille O'Neal, Danica Patrick, and Jerry Rice to serve as undercover drivers in a popular new ad campaign. And with a reported 90 million users in 34,000 cities located around the globe, Airbnb is well on its way toward permanently altering the travel industry. With this kind of size, and even larger valuations, these companies seem to be a permanent feature of today's economy.

However, a new analysis from YouGov Profiles of the customers who use sharing economy services shows that these new giants are not without vulnerabilities in their customer base.

The data reveals that people who've used either Uber, Lyft, or Airbnb within the past 90 days are far more open to risk and adventure than the general public. They also have a stronger predisposition for seeking out new challenges and surrounding themselves with a mixture of different people and ideas — perhaps explaining what attracted these consumers to these brands in the first place.

With this tendency, however, comes a caveat: as a group defined by their openness to new things, they have less of a sense of brand loyalty. Indeed, YouGov Profiles shows that participants in the sharing economy are more willing than the average person to buy other brands, switch their utility provider, and shop at another store if it means saving some time or money.

The message: Disruptors, beware of becoming disrupted. Users of Uber, Lyft, or Airbnb are quick to abandon convention, but that doesn't mean they'll stick around when a new competitor or concept shows up.