News The Borrowers and I-Designers - Global Consumer Trends at July Coffee & Connect
Talk about ending with a bang! We finalised our Top 10 Global Consumer Trends for 2018 (as identified by Euromonitor International) educational series at Coffee & Connect this month and we'll be moving onto a new topic for August's meeting. This month we had record attendance and had to bring in extra tables. We're encouraged that you are all embracing our educational program and we're excited to say there is more to come!!

Two-thirds of the room were new-comers, and we had 4 new ShireWomen Business Membership Sign-Ups! There will be more on our new members over the next few weeks.

To round things up we discussed two consumer trends that are the “Borrowers” and “I-Designers”.

The Borrowers

The Borrowers want access not ownership. They are the drivers of the Sharing & On-Demand Economy and do this through sharing, swapping, renting or streaming.

This trend is mainly driven by millennial's who want to live in cities where the action is, but understand and care little that they can't afford to buy property there. They have opted to rent smaller properties and thus have created a community of sharers, renters and subscribers rejecting material goods in favour of minimalism in their homes. They use their money for more interesting experiences and a freer lifestyle. Lack of ownership allows the borrowers to move from city to city freely and to keep up with the latest trends without having to worry about selling property or items before moving onto the next big thing.

The Borrowers trend has now started to influence the previously materialistic Baby Boomers who are looking to downsize and simplify their lives. Over 5.3 million baby-boomers are set to retire in the next 15 years and many have already started down-sizing and will continue to do so until they retire. Yes - Baby boomers are choosing to downsize, have more money in the bank and use the Sharing Economy to get the most out of their lives. Who'd have thought?

The key factors shaping sharing economy are affordability, convenience, sustainability and technology.

Why Access over Ownership?

For the Borrowers, access over ownership is a lifestyle choice. They care about the climate, and feel sharing will reduce waste, emissions and unused space.

Consumers want more flexibility, to spend less and have less baggage. They don't want to have lots of things - they want the latest thing, to use it, and then move onto the next.

Urbanisation is another key driver and a perfect example of how urbanisation drives the sharing economy is bike-sharing. City-dwellers don't have the space for storing their own bikes - why cram a bike into an already small living space? Why spend $1000's on a bike that might get stolen, or only gets used infrequently?

Reddy Go and Ofo are examples of the sharing and on-demand economy in Sydney. Borrowers download an app and can pick up any bike lying around and ride it to their next destination. They then leave it for the next person who needs it and then they do the same. Costs are about $1.99 per 30 minutes, and consumers receive points for leaving bikes in designated areas. If consumers don't follow the rules, their points drop below a certain level, and they start to pay more to hire a bike. This clever rating system keep people using the bikes in a way that minimises recklessness.

An estimated 55% of the world’s population are now city-dwellers - that’s up from 50% in a decade. City property prices are increasing and pushing more and more people out of the market, therefore the Sharing Economy is here to stay. Space is getting less, and getting a city property with a car spot is becoming more and more rare, and not surprisingly - those who do have a car spot are now renting that spot out!

But it is not just about the money they can save - it is also about the money they can make. These people are The Lenders

On-demand economy provides additional revenue streams to The Lenders by sharing what they have, be it skills or goods.

Some key players of the On-Demand & Sharing Economy are Uber, AirTasker and Airbnb. These platforms allow cash-strapped consumers to share what they have, make some money and make a statement to huge corporates that have previously controlled the market. All they need is an online platform that connects the buyer with a seller or service provider.

There is so much more out there than just AirTasker and Uber. Click here to see a list of just some platforms available to The Borrowers and The Lenders.

These online platforms connect the buyer with a seller or service provider. The seller or service provider isn’t an employee of the platform, they just use the platform to connect with the buyers.

Technology is a driving force

The Borrowers—and Lenders—are always seeking more efficient ways to use and share services.

Now using their iPhone they can:

instantly summon a cab, find a holiday home, rent a garment, share a pet, stream entertainment
pay for it all with the tap of a button.
Regardless of whether these trends change what services you can offer in your business, you can you save money by being a BORROWER.

A few examples:

  • Move into shared office space 
  • Outsource - hire people online to carry out important tasks 
  • Rent equipment - cars, accommodation
You can also make money by being a LENDER by renting out your unused assets to consumers. Some examples:


  • Rent out unused parking spaces - e.g. Spacer 
  • Share office space with freelancers or entrepreneurs - allow them to rent your meeting rooms or empty desks - e.g. DropDesk
  • Advertise your services on sharing sites - e.g. AirTasker 
  • Use crowdfunding or peer-to-peer lenders to raise capital instead of going through traditional lenders- e.g. Kickstarter
  • Our visit this marketplace to browse the thousands of options available!

The I-Designers

"Making it truly mine"

As we have just discussed… There is a significant consumer shift from possessions to experiences.

Last month we talked about consumers wanting to connect with the product creation process. This month we looked at a group of consumers who want to participate in the creation, design and build - they are the I-Designers.

I-Designers don’t want to merely “own” something - they want to be involved and to be seen as having been involved.

They want to be recognised for being creative or clever or a sophisticated connoisseur. They flaunt their purchases on social media, captivating their audience and showing off “how I made it mine” publicising their individuality.

The trend towards more holistic, mindfulness and personal accomplishments means purchasing is taking on greater significance. They are being judged on the choices they make, the care they take, and how individual their purchases are. Therefore the ongoing desire for personalisation and individualism is merging with the desire for authenticity and to create true next-generation customisation.

As a result, things are moving on from the design your own mug and t-shirt days. Consumers are already moving past technology creator concept services such as Instagram filters to customising their own photo albums - even creating their own books.

I-Designers are assuming the role of creators and moving away from just customising mass-produced products. They are now shaping products and incorporating their individual preferences before production. Consumers have been able to choose between different colours, patterns and details, for some time (think Shoes of Prey) but I-Designers bring this to a new level. I-Designers want to exhibit their creativity.

Instead of choosing something that is the same but different, they want to create something for themselves with which they personally connect, something that is truly unique—just like them.

Their philosophy is - "Let me get my hands dirty - but make it easier".

I-Designers are still after convenience - they don't not want excessive complexity or too-steep learning curves. They don't want to build from scratch, and want the tools and pieces they need to create their pieces. They basically want just enough involvement to end up with a truly personal product, but not so much that it makes it all too hard.


If you're planning to do this in your business, be careful as a process which is too simple or lacks flexibility will make the experience feel gimmicky or over-directive, yet too flexible means it becomes too hard for the consumer and they'll give up.
Maybe involve them in a small part of the production process, even if that is just polishing the final item when it comes off the production line, but take note that I-Designers require varying levels of complexity and difficulty to give both first-timers and seasoned designers a fulfilling experience. A tiered approach to this would be an excellent way to cover those who want a little bit of involvement v's those who want a lot.

Some examples of online I-Designer companies:

Applications in the consumer goods world must mix creative experience and technology.

The key is that the designs provide a clear aesthetic to follow, and algorithms are run to guide consumers and avoid colours and patterns that clash. The result is the I-Designer is virtually guaranteed to end up with an item that is both fashionable and very much reflective of his or her personal style.

Other businesses are giving consumers the tools and knowledge to be creative and to share their creations. Some examples are:

Another way of incorporating this trend into mass-production is that which has been adopted by LEGO. LEGO Ideas is a co-creation platform where fans submit their own designs for new LEGO sets. They then need to gather the backing of 10,000 supporters for LEGO to consider the design. If LEGO takes up the design, it goes into production and is sold globally, the creator is given recognition as the designer and receives a share of royalties.

Empowering consumers in such a way is important for future loyalty.