A Society of Renters vs. Owners

Today’s society is experiencing a change in the consumption of products and services.  Our perception of value in product ownership vs product access has shifted due to the expansion of technology.  Because we live in a world with fast, open communication, people are able to connect with others who share similar interests.  With increased connections, comes the desire to exchange information with one another thus opening an opportunity for businesses that offer rental services.

Digital media rental services are an already established solution for consumers.  Back in 2007, Netflix was introduced as a streaming movie service.   Consumers are able to access movies at any time; however, they do not physically own the DVD.  Youtube and Pandora provide access to music and are affordable alternatives to purchasing a song.  Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes and Noble’s Nook have changed the e-book industry regarding book consumption.  Consumers are finding more value in constant access to a product rather than having physical ownership.

As revolutionary changes in the digital market occur regarding rental vs. ownership, non-digital markets are affected as well.  For example, there are an increasing number of online services that allow women to rent designer gowns for a fraction of the purchasing price. ‘Rent the Runway’ is a company that is becoming popular in the bridesmaid dress market.  How often can you wear the bridesmaid dress you purchased for your sister’s wedding?   I would be surprised your answer justifies the amount of money spent on it which makes a rental solution more attractive. Other markets that benefit from offering rental alternatives are the textbook rental industry, car-sharing services, and children’s toys and clothes exchanging services.

Unrestrained access to services rather than outright ownership has become more desirable to consumers.  Consumers will continue to buy products; however, they can limit their spending to items that hold special, emotional value.  Quality and uniqueness will be at the forefront of decision making when consumers buy a product.