Access-Based Consumption: The Case of Car Sharing
Access-based consumption, defined as transactions that can be market mediated but where no transfer of ownership takes place, is becoming increasingly popular, yet it is not well theorized. This study examines the nature of access as it contrasts to ownership and sharing, specifically the consumer-object, consumer-consumer, and consumer-marketer relationships. Six dimensions are identified to distinguish among the range of access-based consumptionscapes: temporality, anonymity, market mediation, consumer involvement, the type of accessed object, and political consumerism. Access-based consumption is examined in the context of car sharing via an interpretive study of Zipcar consumers. Four outcomes of these dimensions in the context of car sharing are identified: lack of identification, varying significance of use and sign value, negative reciprocity resulting in a big-brother model of governance, and a deterrence of brand community. The implications of our findings for understanding the nature of exchange, consumption, and brand community are discussed.
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