The "sharing economy" refers to an economic pattern that aims to obtain a resource that is not fully utilized. Nowadays, the sharing economy has had an unimagined effect on many traditional elements including labor, industry, and distribution system. This effect is not negligible that some industries are obviously under threat. The sharing economy is influencing the traditional marketing channels by changing the nature of some specific concept including ownership, assets, and recruitment.
In the 2000s, with increasing numbers of Internet users and the birth of iPhone, customers began searching products and making decisions about their needs online first, instead of consulting a salesperson, which created a new problem for the marketing department of a company. In addition, a survey in 2000 in the United Kingdom found that most retailers had not registered their own domain address. These problems encouraged marketers to find new ways to integrate digital technology into market development.
Digital marketing became more sophisticated in the 2000s and the 2010s, when the proliferation of devices' capable of accessing digital media led to sudden growth. Statistics produced in 2012 and 2013 showed that digital marketing was still growing. With the development of social media in the 2000s, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, consumers became highly dependent on digital electronics in daily lives. Therefore, they expected a seamless user experience across different channels for searching product's information. The change of customer behavior improved the diversification of marketing technology.
Word of mouth communications and peer-to-peer dialogue often have a greater effect on customers, since they are not sent directly from the company and are therefore not planned. Customers are more likely to trust other customers’ experiences. Examples can be that social media users share food products and meal experiences highlighting certain brands and franchises. This was noted in a study on Instagram, where researchers observed that adolescent Instagram users' posted images of food-related experiences within their social networks, providing free advertising for the products.
With the explosion of digital media, people began to engage with each other – and the companies they did business with – in new ways. The relevance of traditional print and broadcast channels declined, completely changing the consumer-corporation dynamic. Digital channels opened doors for consumers. No longer passive participants in a one-sided marketing conversation, consumers became empowered authors, publishers and critics. The digital landscape is participatory, an area where consumers exchange ideas. Marketers no longer drive the discussion. Everyday consumers are now the style makers and trendsetters.