How to Make Swedish Consumers Buy Less and Share More: An Explorative Study Investigating how to Foster Consumer Engagement in the Sharing Economy by Mapping Swedish Consumer Attitudes Towards Sharing Economy Business Models

Astrid Kristina Lilja & Malin Hedvig Margareta Olsson

Student thesis: Master thesis


There is a growing consensus in Europe that we have to move away from our current linear economic system to one that is based on closing material loops, a circular economy. Increased attention is given to the fact that our current lifestyles are unsustainable as consumer consumption patterns are deflating the environment. Business models based on the idea that items are to be shared among multiple users have been given increased attention as a way to move towards a circular economic system. Along with the rapid expansion of Internet-of things, the concept of sharing access to items among multiple users has grown into a global phenomenon known as the sharing economy. Sweden is leading the way and is one of the frontrunners of the sharing economy, however little evidence exists proving that a potential transition from a linear to a circular system is taking place. Although, the nature of Swedish culture is argued to be particularly open towards sharing economy solutions, there is a yawning gap between consumers intentions and their actual behaviour. Therefore, this study identifies consumers motivations and barriers for engaging in the sharing economy by taking a qualitative approach and conducting focus group interviews with Swedish consumers in the age group of 20-26 years. The overall aim of the thesis is to investigate how attitudes and behaviour can be influenced to foster engagement in the sharing economy. The results show that some of the strongest motivational drivers include flexibility, economic reasons, temporary nature of use and convenience. In terms of barriers, some of the strongest ones identified are hygienic aspects, inconvenience and lack of trust. Some of the identified attitudes have been found in previous studies as well, but the thesis also provides new insights. Additionally, the results show a general preference of access-based consumption. It is concluded that sharing economy must emphasise benefits with their offerings based on the strongest motivational drivers found, while simultaneously overcoming the main barriers. Consumers need to be persuaded that this new economic system is superior to the old linear one if a transition is to take place.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages124
SupervisorsJesper Clement