Consumers’ Journey between Liquid and Solid Consumption
2. Macroeconomic Justifications of the Sharing Economy and the Antecedent of Liquid Consumption in a European Perspective
2.1. The Macroeconomic Nexus between Consumption, Economic Wellbeing of Consumers and the Sharing Economy
- The gross debt-to-income ratio of households influences the average number of individuals having used websites/apps to arrange an accommodation or a transport service from another individual. By calculating the average number of consumers sharing an accommodation or a transport service—respectively, 18.8 (cf. accommodation) and 10.1 (cf. transport service)—we find that countries with individuals using websites/apps to arrange an accommodation or a transport service from another individual above the average have a higher gross debt-to-income ratio of households—respectively, 108.0 (cf. accommodation) and 105.4 (cf. transport service). Instead, countries with individuals using websites/apps to arrange an accommodation or a transport service from another individual below the average have a lower gross debt-to-income ratio of households—respectively, 87.8 (cf. accommodation) and 96.2 (cf. transport service). This result confirms our previous claim, according to which (over-)indebtedness of the private sector is an incentive to the sharing economy;
- The price dynamic within the specific economic sector—respectively, for accommodation and transport services—is less relevant than the gross debt-to-income ratio of households. While countries with individuals using websites/apps to arrange an accommodation or a transport service from another individual above the average have recorded lower increases of the Harmonized Indices of Consumer Prices (HICP)—respectively, 111.9 (cf. accommodation) and 99.3 (cf. transport service)—countries with individuals using websites/apps to arrange an accommodation or a transport service from another individual below the average have presented higher increases of the HICP—respectively, 114.7 (cf. accommodation) and 106.9 (cf. transport service). Not surprisingly, price variations display their impact on consumption expenditure only if the economic wellbeing of households is at risk. Otherwise stated, the gross debt-to-income ratio of households represents a sufficient macroeconomic “brake” to excessive spending and an incentive to share certain goods and services. Upward trends of the HICP are already “incorporated” in the gross debt-to-income ratio of households because—if consumers are already indebted above the average—they will not additionally care about price increases. In the meantime, consumers will have adjusted their consumption patterns.
2.2. Macroeconomic Considerations about the Status Quo of the Sharing Economy in Europe
2.3. Liquid and Solid Consumption in the Sharing Economy
3. Materials and Methods
- Environmentalism : according to , a factor that prompts liquid consumption is the environmental consciousness. Access-based consumption is based on the idea of a more efficient use of resources and waste reduction. In the sharing economy paradigm, the attention shifts from the product to the sharing opportunity offered to consumers that can still satisfy their needs without buying the product. The growing consumers’ desire to engage into sustainable consumption is thus fundamental in driving more liquid purchasing choices;
- Brand loyalty : loyal consumers who belong to brand communities or communities of fans are driven by their long-term attachment towards the brand [49,69]. Moreover, this is typical of solid consumption. At the same time, liquid consumers are not loyal and are characterized by a short-term orientation ;
- Frugality—economic consciousness : frugality is defined as “a unidimensional consumer lifestyle trait characterized by the degree to which consumers are both restrained in acquiring and in resourcefully using economic goods and services to achieve longer-term goals” . This represents a fundamental construct to analyze consumption and purchasing habits, especially when faced with environmental implications like in the context of the sharing economy;
- Uncertainty avoidance—risk aversion : risk aversion describes the extent to which individuals feel threatened by unknown and ambiguous situations. When risk aversion is high, individuals feel the need to reduce it by preferring certain, fixed and rigid rules. Therefore, they prefer a more solid type of consumption. When risk aversion is low, individuals are able to tolerate a certain degree of uncertainty  and are more prone to liquid consumption;
- Variety seeking tendencies : a variety seeking behavior is defined as a tendency to look for diversity in consumption choices . It arises specifically when individuals are satiated and therefore experience a need to change. Grounding on this assumption, liquid consumption allows consumers to change and try different options without a long-term commitment;
- Impulsive buying tendencies : this variable is defined as the extent to engage into unplanned purchasing decisions. This personality trait is usually correlated with materialism and variety seeking . It is, therefore, reasonable to expect that individuals with a more solid consumption style are more prone to engage in impulsive buying;
- Optimism/well-being : according to  property has an affective dimension. According to the affective infusion model, positive and optimistic mood induces individuals to evaluate goods more positively and even over-evaluate them, preventing individuals from detaching from the object. This attitude might foster a solid approach to consumption.
5. Discussion and Conclusions
5.1. From Macroeconomics to the Survey Analysis
5.2. Theoretical Implications
5.3. Managerial Implications
5.4. Research Limitations
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
|Less than high school||1%|
|High school diploma or equivalent degree||45%|
|PhD or higher||2%|
|€ 20,000 to € 70,0000||26%|
|€ 70,000 to € 100,000||2%|
|Prefer not to say||14%|
Appendix A.1. Survey’s Scenarios
Appendix A.1.1. Scenario 1: Laptop
- I would be satisfied with my decision to rent (buy) the Surface Pro and accessories;
- The choice to rent (buy) the Surface Pro and accessories would be a wise one;
- I think that I did the right thing when I decided to rent (buy) the Surface Pro and accessories;
- I feel good about my decision to rent (buy) the Surface Pro and accessories.
Appendix A.1.2. Scenario 2: Outfit
- I would be satisfied with my decision to rent (buy) the fashion item;
- The choice to rent (buy) the fashion item would be a wise one;
- I think that I did the right thing when I decided to rent (buy) the fashion item;
- I feel good about my decision to rent (buy) the fashion item.
Appendix A.1.3. Scenario 3: Car
- Basic (best if you only drive occasionally): $0 monthly rate, drive from $0.23/min;
- Smart: $8.50 monthly rate, drive from $0.18/min;
- Plus: $21 monthly rate, drive from $0.15/min;
- The car sharing company covers gas, insurance options and parking. All you need is a driver license, a credit/debit card and a smartphone to book the car closer to you.
- I would be satisfied with my decision to rent (buy) the car;
- The choice to rent (buy) the car would be a wise one;
- I think that I did the right thing when I decided to rent (buy) the car;
- I feel good about my decision to rent (buy) the car.
Appendix A.1.4. Scenario 4: Bike
- I would be satisfied with my decision to rent (buy) the bike;
- The choice to rent (buy) the bike would be a wise one;
- I think that I did the right thing when I decided to rent (buy) the bike;
- I feel good about my decision to rent (buy) the bike.
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|Local Individuals Using Websites/Apps to Arrange an Accomodation from Another Individual||Gross Debt-to-Income Ratio of Households||HICP—Accomodation Services||Local Individuals USING Websites/Apps to Arrange a Transport Service from Another Individual||Gross Debt-to-Income Ratio of Households||HICP—Transport Services|
|Switzerland||26||190 (2018)||97||Luxembourg||22||174 (2018)||103|
|Turkey||3||25 (2017)||142||Turkey||1||25 (2017)||146|
|Average||18.8||108.0 (if individuals 18.8)||111.9 (if individuals 18.8)||Average||10.1||105.4 (if individuals 10.1)||99.3 (if individuals 10.1)|
|87.8 (if individuals 18.8)||114.7 (if individuals 18.8)||96.2 (if individuals 10.1)||106.9 (if individuals 10.1)|
|Environmentalism—Purchasing behavior||1. It is important to me that the products I use do not harm the environment.||||0.918|
|2. I consider the potential environmental impact of my actions when making many of my decisions.|
|3. My purchase habits are affected by my concern for our environment.|
|4. I am concerned about wasting the resources of our planet.|
|5. I would describe myself as environmentally responsible.|
|6. I am willing to be inconvenienced in order to take actions that are more environmentally friendly.|
|Brand loyalty||1. After I get used to a brand, I don’t like to switch.||||0.881|
|2. I see myself as a brand loyal person.|
|3. I feel really committed to the brands I buy.|
|4.> Even though certain products are available in a number of different brands, I always tend to buy the same brand|
|5. I prefer the brand I always buy instead of trying something new I am not sure about.|
|Frugality (economic consciousness)||1. If you take good care of your possessions, you will definitely save money in the long run.||||0.836|
|2. There are many things that are normally thrown away that are still quite useful.|
|3. Making better use of my resources makes me feel good.|
|4. If you can re-use an item you already have, there’s no sense in buying something new.|
|5. I believe in being careful in how I spend my money.|
|6. I discipline myself to get the most from my money.|
|7. I am willing to wait on a purchase I want so that I can save money.|
|8. There are things I resist buying today so I can save for tomorrow.|
|Uncertainty avoidance (risk aversion)||1. I tend to avoid talking to strangers.||||0.690|
|2. I prefer a routine way of life to an unpredictable one full of change.|
|3. I would not describe myself as a risk-taker.|
|4. I do not like taking too many chances to avoid making a mistake.|
|5. I am very cautious about how I spend my money.|
|Optimism||1. If something can go wrong for me, it will.||||0.870|
|2. I’m optimistic about my future.|
|3. I hardly ever expect things to go my way.|
|4. I rarely count on good things happening to me.|
|5. Overall, I expect more good things to happen to me than bad|
|Variety seeking tendencies||1. I enjoy taking chances by trying out unfamiliar companies, products/contracts to provide variety to my life.||||0.899|
|2. I like trying things out that I am not familiar with.|
|3. I always try something different.|
|4. I like to try something I am not very sure of.|
|5. I enjoy trying out new products.|
|Impulsive buying tendencies||1. I often spend more than what I can afford.||||0.789|
|2. I like to indulge myself by buying things for pleasure.|
|3. I lose self-control quite frequently.|
|4. I often act without thinking about the consequences.|
|5. I seldom plan anything in advance.|
|6. I often make decisions spontaneously.|
|Cluster||Rational and Liquid||Hybrid Question Marks||Solid in Transition||Hyper Solid|
|Frugality (economic consciousness)||6.29||6.18||5.79||4.96|
|Uncertainty avoidance (risk aversion)||5.51||4.17||4.64||4.35|
|Variety seeking tendencies||3.65||5.34||4.92||4.25|
|Impulsive buying tendencies||2.84||3.11||3.59||4.24|
|Cluster||Hyper Liquid||Hybrid Question Marks||Solid in Transition||Hyper Solid|
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Beretta, E.; Miniero, G.; Ricotta, F. Consumers’ Journey between Liquid and Solid Consumption. Sustainability 2021, 13, 13730. https://doi.org/10.3390/su132413730
Beretta E, Miniero G, Ricotta F. Consumers’ Journey between Liquid and Solid Consumption. Sustainability. 2021; 13(24):13730. https://doi.org/10.3390/su132413730Chicago/Turabian Style
Beretta, Edoardo, Giulia Miniero, and Francesco Ricotta. 2021. "Consumers’ Journey between Liquid and Solid Consumption" Sustainability 13, no. 24: 13730. https://doi.org/10.3390/su132413730