Insights Optimizing the P2P Movement

Aug 30, 2020

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”  Henry Ford

There are so many successful peer-to-peer (P2P) services nowadays that it’s sometimes hard to remember how young the overall concept still is. We all know about the biggies, Uber and Lyft for conveyance, Airbnb and VRBO for lodging, and GoFundMe and Kickstarter for donations. Among those, the oldest is only 11 years old! And there’s a steady stream of new ones emerging daily with trendlines leading us to believe that P2P services will only gather steam in the coming years. Why? A record of 9,500 stores went out of business last year, and there could be nearly three times that amount closed by the end of this year, according to an estimate by Coresight Research.

Among the hard-hit is the food service industry, which was hit particularly hard in the recent months. Those who have remained in operation have been forced to pivot, and in many cases, drastically changed their business model (e.g., concentrate on contactless pick-up and delivery) to stay in business.

While millions of food service related and other industry jobs have been lost, there still exists a need among consumers to be “serviced”. And this is what’s fueling a new era of resource and fulfillment – the Peer to Peer Movement.

Gone are the days when consumers would choose a business based on how early they appear in the yellow pages—thus accounting for all those AAA Acme electricians. Today, networking is a predominant means of resourcing, and social media has become the go-to hunt and find mechanism.

Need some pictures hung, your deck sanded, or your driveway pressure washed? Shout it out on Nextdoor or your community Facebook group and you’ll have a slew of recommendations almost instantly. And a lot of the recommendations may be non-commercial resources – the recently laid off guy or gal who has a skill they put to work for them to pay the rent while they’re feverishly looking for another main gig. Instead of a side hustle, this side work is what we call a gap hustle. And, oh by the way, it has become an amped up user channel for the likes of Apple Pay and Zelle.

Walmart clearly recognized many Americans, regardless of their political affiliation, were keen on wearing masks. Further, the retailer saw an opportunity to be not only be industry leaders but to potentially re-recruit shoppers who are refraining or drastically reducing physical store shopping while seeking the safety of e-commerce. Intentional or otherwise, definitely infringing on Amazon’s market share.  And while they serve as a great example for this purposes of this blog, Walmart is not the only smart company stepping up their game with innovation and development, refusing to fade for lack of being relevant.

New P2P services are emerging with the times – opportunistic, and disruptive. For example, there’s Swimply, a service that allows homeowners to rent out their pools by the hour—here just in time to placate those affected by pandemic-related closures of public pools. There’s also the relatively new Cash App, a payments service from Square, that allows users to instantly borrow up to $200—a concept that could gain traction as more Americans fall on hard times. There’s also a potpourri of P2P mental-health services available, including MeeTwo, an app that, for now, is only available in the U.K.. MeeTwo allows for anonymous counselling from others who can commiserate.

Now is the time for established service related businesses to recognize how infringing the P2P movement can be and figure out a way to cash in on it, or at least how to become differentiated and interrupt the disruption. Whether that means investing in the development of innovative platforms that accommodate P2P service merchandising and marketing, or devoting resources to secure segment leadership through social influence.

Insights are driving both sides of this dynamic coin – the new P2P service platforms, understanding their real opportunity lies in needs fulfillment, are conducting needs based consumer research, and the companies seeking to evolve are doing the same.

~ Marketing Workshop