Online Collaborative Consumption: Exploring Meanings, Motivations, Costs, And Benefits

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Online Collaborative Consumption: Exploring Meanings, Motivations, Costs, And Benefits

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This research aimed to provide an in-depth understanding of the experience of online collaborative consumption. Collaborative consumption encompasses the sharing, renting, or swapping of goods, information, and resources. This form of consumption is being reinvented as a result of the Internet. The specific research questions of this study were: (1) What is the nature of the lived experiences of collaborative consumers? (2) Who are collaborative consumers? (3) What motivates/deters engagement in collaborative consumption? (4) What criteria are used to assess collaborative consumption opportunities? (5) What limitations exist concerning the growth of collaborative consumption? (6) What does being an active collaborative consumer mean to these individuals? (7) How has participation in collaborative consumption impacted views or behaviors concerning consumption in general? This study was conducted in three different collaborative consumption contexts: product service system, redistribution market, and collaborative lifestyle, to gain a holistic understanding of collaborative consumption. Using a phenomenological approach, 30 collaborative consumers participated in in-depth interviews. A range of motivations, benefits, costs, and meanings associated with collaborative consumption were revealed. Participants' primary motive to consume collaboratively was economic (e.g., to save and earn money), followed by social (e.g., to give or gain support), functional (e.g., reduce clutter), environmental, and personal (e.g., keep up with fashion trends) motivations. The majority of participants indicated that social benefits (i.e., forming relationships, socializing) were the most important benefits of collaborative consumption. The collaborative consumption website became a venue for participants to not only share possessions but also their knowledge, ideas, and concerns. Several participants identified trust concerns associated with collaborative consumption. To build trust, online reputation (e.g., reviews) was a significant criterion on which participants relied. A range of meanings for collaborative consumption emerged from personal (e.g., removing clutter, freedom) to broader meanings (e.g., community building, fostering social responsibility). Participation in collaborative consumption impacted changes in views and behaviors. Participants became sensitive to discounts and felt uncomfortable buying things new. Participants also shared that they increased or shifted to buying environmentally friendly or sustainable products. Discussion of the findings, limitations, and suggestions for future research were also provided.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. June 2013. Major: Design, Housing and Apparel. Advisor: Kim Johnson. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 152 pages.

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Mun, Jung Mee. (2013). Online Collaborative Consumption: Exploring Meanings, Motivations, Costs, And Benefits. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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