The Access Trumps Ownership Ethos has Arrived!

In our world today, a whisper is turning into chatter. Conscientious and younger consumers are awakening to a growing trend. The collision of social media networks, growing environmental concerns, strengthening community importance, and a massive global recession created the perfect opportunity for a new economic marketplace: The Access Economy (or Collaborative Consumption or the Shared Economy). The Access Economy changes behavior without diminishing convenience, prosperity, or quality of life. In fact, it creates a closer world, where neighbors trust one another. 

The Access Economy changes the traditional product lifecycle model entirely. It calls into question when collaborative consumption models jump into the middle of the customer-product relationship. Now the value chain must face product users who will choose to borrow, rent or share, rather than purchase a product to own. The demand for physical inventory falls as individual product utilization rises, leading to a higher collective value for an individual product. Working upstream to raw material demand, where demand will sharply decline and leave our planet with more. The ripple effect of the Access Economy through the value chain is potentially massive.

These upstream ripple effects will begin to have consequences in the marketplace as the Access Economy reaches critical mass. These consequences will be positive for proactive companies, like Nike, Interface, and Patagonia, who have embraced sustainability as a core mission. The Access Economy essentially values a product for the need it fulfills, rather than for the physical materials of which it is composed. In other words, this is the mental shift from selling products to selling services, which was how Ray Anderson envisioned a new future for Interface.

“Commerce redesign, to create the true service economy selling service-in the case of carpets: color, texture, design, acoustics, comfort, cleanliness-service, rather than product, retaining ownership in the means, and giving those products life after life in closed loop material flows; bringing about manifold improvement in resource efficiency.” - Ray Anderson, Chairman, Interface Flooring Systems.

The Access Economy meets the needs of the consumer without the burden of ownership and the physical demands on the Earth’s resources. The accumulated debt that we have to Earth and our future generations is massive. Only a shift in how we meet our needs can possibly begin to return the planet to a balance. A flourishing Access Economy means fewer demands on resources, less waste and a better balance with our planet.

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