Discussion Papers

No. 467: Platform multihoming - A consumer perspective

Authors: Serpil Taş, Lukas Wiewiorra (in cooperation with Weizenbaum-Institut)

(full version only available in German)


This discussion paper opens by analyzing a number of different definitions of the sharing economy from the academic literature. Thereby, the following core elements have been identified: technological implementation, business model, management of property rights, type of product, and degree of commercialization.

The focus of the online consumer survey (CAWI), which included 6,326 participants, is on two established segments of the sharing economy: the mobility sector and the accommodation sector. The data analysis reveals that currently only about 5% of the respondents use P2P sharing platforms in the mobility sector as suppliers and/or consumers of mobility services. In contrast, in the accommodation sector this share is about 18%. Taking respondents, that used sharing platforms to search for information, as potential consumers into account, these figures raise to about 8% in the mobility sector and 25% in the accommodation sector. This corresponds to a potential user base of about 5.5 million and 17.6 million in the respective segments in Germany.

Respondents' personality traits and attitudes have an impact on the use of P2P sharing platforms in both the mobility and accommodation sector. Platform users tend to be more trusting, environmentally aware and sociable than non-users. Likewise users are influenced in their usage decision by social and ecological, but also economic factors. However, these factors not only have an effect on whether sharing platforms are used, but also on the type of platform or service that is being used. In addition, trust in platforms and platform users as well as the usefulness of platforms also play an important role in the usage decision.

A closer examination of supply and demand in the mobility and accommodation sector reveals that about 26% of the respondents who use sharing platforms in the mobility sector, and 34% of the respondents who use sharing platforms in the accommodation sector, multihome. With respect to suppliers of mobility services and accommodations, about 20% use more than one platform in the mobility sector and about 28% in the accommodation sector. The two main reasons for multi-homing are more consumer choice and the ability to compare offers and prices. In contrast, convenience, satisfaction with the used platform, and lack of trust in other platforms are reasons for single-homing.

In the economic literature, we identified results suggesting that sharing plattforms in the accommodation sector generate stronger price competition with hotels of a lower quality in particular. Regulation to protect workers in the mobility sector of the sharing economy may also create negative welfare effects. Multi-homing may create short-term benefits, but may also be detrimental to all market participants in the long run if it reduces investment costs to monopolize the market.

Discussion paper is available for download.

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