The idea of sharing is being reinvented
To keep up with consumers’ changing needs, retailers are often looking for new ways to refresh their brand and hook new customers. Lately, these needs have been tailored towards the common idea of “sharing is caring,” which has taken on a whole new meaning.
The growth of the sharing economy has allowed consumers to borrow products ranging from clothing to jewelry. Now, consumers are looking to rent furniture pieces for a small cost and then return them afterwards. This type of economy has brought about innovation and partnerships with different companies.
Rent the Runway and West Elm team up
One such partnership is between Rent The Runway — a rental platform that allows you to swap out clothes and accessories weekly or monthly — and West Elm — a furniture company that incorporates brands like Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma.
This partnership will allow customers to rent bundles of three to four items and return them once they are done. These bundles include quilts, shams and other relatively small household items. There is also the option of buying any of the West Elm products at a discounted price.
Because these products are rented, they allow consumers to utilize them for house parties or to spruce up their homes for guests. The possibilities are endless and affordable.
On that note, affordability yields more sales and, therefore, more profit. For example, the sharing economy is projected to reach $335 billion by 2025. This will also extend into different categories like toys and jewelry.
According to Rent the Runway COO Maureen Sullivan, the collaboration between Rent the Runway and West Elm is meant to be a “learning experience for Rent the Runway to see what types of ‘use cases’ come up.” In other words, this partnership will help grow the business and perhaps expand into unique fields.
Speaking of growing businesses, Ikea has also announced a new program that follows the product rental trend of today’s sharing economy.
Ikea goes green
Ikea has started a program in Switzerland that allows business consumers to rent office furniture like desks and chairs. This was created in order to promote sustainable solutions for the sharing economy by reusing products.
According to an Ikea spokesperson, “we have an ambition to inspire and enable people to play an active role in making the circular economy a reality, which we can support by developing new ways for people to buy, care for and pass on products.”
This is ultimately the premise of Ikea’s new leasing program: to rent products and then gather data on how the customer takes care of it. It will help in promoting environmentally friendly and cost effective products in the future.
And this is what consumers are looking for when renting products. They want to know that the products are sustainable and will benefit them in different ways.
Psychological benefits of the sharing economy
By renting rather than buying, consumers are being more conscientious. They do not want to contribute to the growing waste problem and understand that they are helping the environment.
Consumers also view rentals as an investment in experience, not ownership. Researchers Fleura Bardhi and Giana M. Eckhardt in the Journal of Consumer Research stated that consumers are looking for access to products that offer more experience for your money. This prompts consumers to keep coming back. In fact, some studies have shown that investing in life experiences over materialism increases happiness and sales.
Retailers, take note: the premise of “sharing is caring” indeed is caring, both for the consumer and the retailer. Whether furniture or yachts are being rented, the sharing economy will continue to prosper.
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By MONIQUE MENDEZ | Contributing Writer