Sharing economy in Denmark: An Investigation of Consumer Behaviour

Snorri Kristjansson & Helene Westrøm

Student thesis: Master thesis


The phenomenon of the sharing economy has been an increasingly hot topic the last few years where the number of Danes participating in the sharing economy has tripled during the last year. This thesis includes an investigation of the consumer behaviour of the sharing economy consumers in Denmark. The thesis opt to discover the behavioural patterns related to the consumption of sharing economy services, as well as to uncover the symbolic meaning that the consumers assign to the phenomenon, as well as how this is affected by their cultural context. This is done by studying two central sharing economy industries; home-sharing and car-sharing. Thereafter, the thesis presents theoretical and practical implications for how brands in the sharing economy can use this knowledge of the Danish consumers. The problem is investigated through theories from the field of consumer behaviour. We apply theories regarding symbolic meaning, tribal marketing and social linkages, the consumersʼ identities and self-concepts, and brand relationship with a focus on brand loyalty, in order to investigate and explain the Danish sharing economy consumer behaviour. This exploratory research is based on a qualitative method of analysis, where consumers in Denmark within the sharing economy were researched through the use of focus groups. The methodology opted to create data that was interpreted and analysed by applying the presented theories. According to the analysis, we have three highlights of our findings. Firstly, we found the consumers to be placed into six consumption groups, which consisted of the consumers with shared thoughts, opinions and mindsets regarding their sharing economy experiences. These were the Economic, the Convenience, the Experiential, the Avatar, the Social and the Green consumption groups. We found that the single consumer can be placed in more than one group. Secondly, we found some aspects of the Danish culture that may affect the symbolic meaning of the sharing economy services in Denmark. Thirdly, we found that the consumers are more interested in the consumption and the service itself, rather than the brand. This implies a great ii issue for sharing economy brands targeting the Danish market, as it might be difficult to create a relationship with the consumer and thus create strong brand loyalty. Our findings imply that the sharing economy brands targeting Denmark will now have a better understanding of the mindset of their consumers, which assists them in better targeting their consumers and position themselves in the market. The forming of the consumption groups may be a better way of segmenting the market, however this way proves some issues. An important implication of our findings is the essential position of the provider in the peer-to-peer sharing economy, which pushes the brand aside. Thus, the brand loses some control in this new relationship model between the consumers, the brand and the provider. We suggest how to manage this, amongst other by investigate and manage the brandʼs touchpoints with the consumer. As we found that some of our results were specific to the certain sharing economy service, which was peer-to-peer home- or car-sharing, our results cannot be generalizable to the whole sharing economy industry. Nevertheless, some of our findings prove an understanding of how the consumers relate to the phenomenon of the sharing economy.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2015
Number of pages223