Measuring consumerism in the sharing economy: A design for an empowering, informative tool

Koolhoven, R., 30-Jun-2018.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperAcademic

The sharing economy offers both opportunities and challenges. Platforms that create markets for the temporary use of underused assets - such as Airbnb and Peerby - may contribute to a transition to a circular economy in which we intensify the use of what is already there. Offering temporary use on a larger scale used to be a professional business activity, but platforms enable consumers, platform users acting outside the scope of their profession, to do the same. Amidst these developments, consumer legislation and information duties still use the notion of ‘professional’ on the supply-side and ‘consumer’ on the demand-side. Unfortunately, there is no clear division between these two notions. The division is assessed on a case-to-case basis dependant on a number of factors. Therefor, consumers who start providing services and become successful, risk being perceived as ‘professional’. This shift goes hand in hand with an increase of duties vis-a-vis the consumer on the demand-side. Because consumers typically lack the scale, experience and resources to comply with consumer protection regulation, they should be able to know ‘When do I cross the dividing line between the notion of ‘consumer’-supplier and professional-supplier?’
At the University of Groningen, Faculty of Law, the Learning Community on the
Sharing Economy mapped all factors that play a role in determining the capacity of participants in the sharing economy. These were framed to create a ‘Prosumeter’, a meter for the consumer-supplier who wants to know whether he is gradually becoming a professional. Relevant factors (planning, number of transaction, value, duration, type of service of product, registration, etcetera) were found through an analysis of European and national legislation, Guidance documents, case law and legal literature.
The ‘Prosumeter’ is meant to function as an informative tool, providing 1) an
indication of someone’s position on the aforementioned consumer-professional scale and 2) reference to publicly accessible sources that help him assess his personal situation and the applicable legal framework further.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 30-Jun-2018


  • sharing economy, sustainability, private law, Circular economy
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