The sharing economy – is trust essential? : the effect of profile quality and brand equity on trust and purchasing intention
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- Master of Science 
The sharing economy has gained popularity in the last decade and is projected to grow substantially in the future. Several brands from the sharing economy have equally high valuations as the biggest brands in the traditional industry within the same category. However, some issues need to be addressed before the high praises can become a reality. This paper addresses a fundamental issue within the sharing economy: trust. Trust has been addressed in business-to-commerce (B2C) and interpersonal literature; however, there is no unique definition, and research on the sharing economy is still scarce. How is trust created in the sharing economy and what are its effects are open questions. This thesis examines whether the quality perceptions of brands and peers have an effect on trust and purchasing intentions. The remainder of this thesis is organized as follows. In the first part, the research conceptualizes a peer’s profile quality and brand equity; and explore its effects concerning trust in both a peer and a brand. The second parts analyses trust antecedents in the sharing economy, addressing the different strands in the literature. In the last part, the research investigates whether both brand trust and peer trust significantly affect a person’s purchasing intention toward a sharing economy company. The thesis provides a thorough review of the state of research in brand equity, profile quality, brand and peer trust, trust antecedents of peer and brand trust, and their effect on purchase intention in the sharing economy. Based on the review, the research develops 9 hypotheses and test these using an experimental design with a 2 (low brand equity vs. high brand equity) x 2 (low profile quality vs. high profile quality) between subject design. The study is based on surveys submitted to all types of respondents. The main finding of this study is that profile quality has direct effects on both brand and peer trust, while brand equity has no significant direct effect. However, brand equity was found to have a moderating effect on peer trust when profile quality is perceived as low. In addition, brand trust and peer trust were both found to be reliable predictors of a person’s purchase intention. Also, in line with previous studies, the trust antecedents of ability, benevolence, and integrity were found to be significant building stones of trust toward both peer and brand in the sharing economy.
Masteroppgave(MSc) in Master of Science in Strategic Marketing Management - Handelshøyskolen BI, 2017