When close to 300,000 umbrellas belonging to a Shenzhen-based start-up, Sharing E Umbrella, went missing across Chinese cities last year, it was confirmation of two things. Contrary to what Rihanna said, you cannot stand under someone’s umbrella (Ella, ella, eh, eh, eh) and the offering of some products in the (choose one that you dislike the least) crowd-based/sharing/peer-to-peer economy, just doesn’t work. Owning "stuff" has long served as an assurance of one’s place in the world: status, or a marker of having finally arrived by virtue of what car you drive, where you live and holiday, and what you wear. Over the past 10 years, however, consumers in (mostly) developed markets have been tending towards an asset-light life over acquisitiveness. This has given rise to what has become known as (again, choose one you dislike the least) the crowd-based/sharing/peer-to-peer economy. Upending industries You will know the pioneers of this fast-growing sector movement: Uber, Airbnb, digita...

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