Just a few years ago, status came from having a big house, nice cars and a large supply of luxury goods. But then Millennials happened.
- Modern customers crave freedom instead of being weighed down by possessions
- Sharing or renting items cuts cost, waste and builds community
- Innovative companies facilitate rentals of things ranging from parking spots to pets
- Rental companies allow customers to use items for a short time without the full cost
- We’ll see even more shared and rented items in the future
Once companies focused on better, faster, cheaper. The more companies could cut costs in the production of items, the cheaper they could sell it for. Today many companies are still only competing on price, over quality or customer experience. But customers are getting tired of cheaply made goods that must be thrown away and replaced. Selling cheap goods with a short shelf life is not sustainable for the planet, and it’s bad for customer experience. Not only are customers tired of poorly made goods, today, consumers crave the freedom that comes from not being weighed down with permanent possessions. Lippincott’s Customer of the Future report showcases how modern customers prioritize access over ownership. Customers want connectivity and community instead of being tied down with monthly payments and long-term ownership.
The future of stuff is shared or rented. Instead of having to purchase their own items, consumers are looking for ways to rent or share. The new approach to stuff has numerous benefits, including lower costs for consumers, a large reduction in waste and a larger variety in rented items.
The idea of renting isn’t new—people have been renting apartments and cars for decades. But renting in the future will expand to include a huge variety of items. We’re already seeing the future of shared and rented items with these innovative concepts and companies:
For many people in urban areas, it doesn’t make economic sense to own a car. Between the maintenance and insurance expenses, plus the high price of long-term parking, the cost can seriously outweigh the benefits when public transportation is so readily available. Car-sharing services like Getaround and Zipcar operate in most major cities and allow people to borrow a car whenever they need to run an errand or take a trip out of the city.
The fashion industry is riddled with waste, both from the resources it takes to construct new garments and the wasted clothes when people don’t use their items. Many consumers want to build a quality wardrobe without paying the full cost. Companies like Rent the Runway and Lending Luxury rent out designer items to customers for short periods of time. Customers can wear a designer item to a special event for a fraction of the price of buying it themselves.
Think of it as Airbnb for parking spaces. Companies like Pavemint help customers search for parking spaces to rent in busy cities, where parking is a hot commodity. People with an extra parking space can list it on the site and then rent it out on a daily or weekly basis. It’s a win-win for both sides of users as the parking spot “landlord” earns money for their extra space and the “tenant” can easily find parking.
The renting and sharing economy even extends to animals. If you’re in need of a pooch for a few hours, try renting one. Borrow My Doggy and Brave Pup connect people with dogs in their area that they can rent for a few hours to de-stress with a furry companion.
Any college student knows the overwhelming expense of textbooks, which can easily cost hundreds of dollars a semester. Chegg and even Amazon lower the cost by renting textbooks to students for a semester or quarter. The downside with renting comes from not being able to mark in the book, but many people find it is well worth the lower cost.
As more people start working remotely, the demand for workspace has increased drastically. In coworking spaces, freelancers or small business owners rent a desk, conference room or P.O. box from a larger facility. National companies include Serendipity Labs and Impact Hub. Many coworking facilities are specialized for their location and allow remote workers to get access to the professional tools they need without having to pay for an entire office space.
The idea of renting and sharing even applies to cash. A number of companies, including Lending Club and Prosper, have built platforms that connect people looking for a loan with people willing to supply the money. The benefit of lending through the shared economy is that it helps people avoid the red tape and many fees of traditional banks. The terms and interest rate are set through the platform to facilitate secure payments.
These innovative concepts are just the beginning. Over the next few decades, we’ll see much more of the economy become shared or rented. Companies that can facilitate these types of relationships between people can build strong relationships, support flexibility and sustainability and lead the charge to a new way of owning things.
Blake Morgan is a keynote speaker, customer experience futurist and the author of two books including her new “The Customer Of The Future.” Stay in touch with her weekly on her newsletter.
First published on Forbes.com