Lifestyle28 February 20187 minute read

Over 55s Drive Growth in Sharing Economy

Who's driving growth in the sharing economy? The answer might surprise you.

Whether it’s earning a few bucks for bingo or amassing an empire, Aussies are taking to the sharing economy to live a fuller and richer life in their fifties, sixties and beyond according to the latest research from Plenti's^ Sharing Economy Trust Index.

Plenti's Sharing Economy Trust Index is a bi-annual report that measures the attitudes and behaviour of Australians towards sharing economy services, including established services such as Uber, Airbnb and eBay as well as a raft of new services.

The new research has found that entrepreneurial over-55s have been lured to the sharing economy to boost the money they have available for life’s little luxuries and discretionary purchases. In our latest survey of more than 1000 people, 27% of the over-55s reported that they’re using sharing economy earnings to improve their lifestyle and 17% of this group are making money from assets or skills that they otherwise wouldn’t profit from.

Cottage industries, spare rooms, Uber and lending

The proportion of Australian over-55s earning through this new world marketplace is around 44%. Of these earners, 38% are building cottage industries through online marketplaces such as eBay, Gumtree and Etsy, 5% are renting out their spare rooms to travellers, 4% have joined the Uber revolution and the same proportion are investing in consumer lending platforms (4%).

Daniel Foggo, CEO of Plenti said, “Older people really have the edge in many of the services provided through sharing economy. Opportunity abounds for experienced drivers through taxiing and delivery services, spare rooms and one-time teenage-retreats can offer rental potential and lump sums they may receive for retirement can be invested through consumer lending for attractive returns. It really is a non-discriminatory workplace that rewards age, experience and assets.”

The fastest-growing age group for entrepreneurship

The Plenti report follows a recent study that found that over-50s are the fastest-growing age group for entrepreneurship. The Sharing Economy Trust Index predicts further growth over the next six months: amongst over 55s, 44% expressed a willingness to use the sharing economy to earn extra money in the future.

According to the research, empty-nesters are earning an average of $79 each month while those who still support adult children living at home earned an average of $101.

Mr Foggo concluded, “People are living longer and as a result retirement is not as black and white, or even sepia as it once was. Older people are not leaving work at 65 with a gold watch but rather they are taking advantage of innovative new services and continuing to earn by investing money and time in a more flexible way.”

Other key findings from the November 2016 Sharing Economy Trust Index:

A significant number of Australians are now using sharing economy services on a regular basis. In particular;

  • 65% of Australians used a sharing economy service within the previous six months
  • Online marketplaces for goods remain the most popular sharing economy service, with 54% of respondents having used such a service within the previous six months. However, a number of services have significantly increased in usage over the same period, with 24% of Australians now using ride-sharing and 15% using accommodation sharing services.
  • Over a third (38%) of Australians spend at least $50 a month on sharing economy services, with 35-44 year olds spending the most, averaging a monthly spend of $138
  • Australians are finding opportunities through the sharing economy to earn extra income, with 22% of respondents earning at least $50 per month through Sharing Economy services

Stable trust in the sharing economy

The trust Australians hold in the sharing economy is stable compared to six months ago. Specifically;

  • 68% of respondents indicated a willingness to use each of the seven sharing economy services surveyed
  • Australians’ willingness to use sharing economy services is growing strongly, with 26% of respondents showing substantial increases in trust compared to six months ago
  • Ridesharing and online marketplaces for goods showed the largest increases in trust, compared to six months ago
  • Factors affecting Australians’ current trust in sharing economy services remain largely unchanged compared to six months ago, with the most common factor affecting trust being a perceived lack of personal safety (50%), which crept up 2% compared to six months ago

Three-quarters of Australians will use the sharing economy

 Consumer intentions indicate strong future growth in Australia’s Sharing Economy 

  • Three quarters (75%) of Australians intend to use at least one sharing economy service in the next six months
  • Appetite to use sharing economy services was strong across all services surveyed, with accommodation sharing, ridesharing and online outsourcing demonstrating the largest potential growth in the near future
  • Newer sharing economy services such as online outsourcing and consumer loans have the biggest relative potential for growth in usage
  • 59% of Australians say they would consider using a sharing economy service to supplement their income, with online marketplaces for goods (50%), ride sharing (12%) and online outsourcing (10%) topping the list of preferred money makers

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Written byBen Milsom
Ben co-founded Plenti in 2014 and has diverse experience in financial services and online strategy, well-practised in high-growth digital ventures.