Has The Convenience Economy Evolved Into The Rental Economy?

Have an elegant soirée to attend?  Do you have the right outfit? One that expresses your style and attitude?   What’s a person to do? RENT! Point your browser to Rent-The-Runway and you and Chanel are off to the ball.  

Renting instead of buying is nothing new; my father and I would often go to Sam’s Uhaul and rent tools to help us keep our yard presentable.  In the 60’s, people did not own large, powerful gardening tools. Today, we fill our garages and outdoor sheds with equipment used just once or twice a year.  People wanted to own “stuff” and it had to be professional quality. We stopped renting. Now, the tide seems to be turning.

Today, if you want that special tool, Google will find it and with a few clicks, it will be delivered to your door.  Then, when your yard work is complete, tech will whisk it away, saving you money and space in your garage. Tech makes renting so easy, why buy?  Do you really need all those tools and toys in your garage?

Uber did not invent taxi service, they made it easier.  At the tap of your finger, Uber directs the closest driver to pick you up and deliver you to your destination.  Not only is Uber easy, it is so easy that it has become a viable alternative to owning your own vehicle. Your pristine speed demon sits 80% of the day depreciating.  In fact, if you do take a long drive now and then, it is less expensive to rent a car than to drive your own car. Do we really need two cars in our garage (if there’s even room in your garage!)?

New to the rental game is Feathers furniture.  Feathers believes people do not really want to own expensive furniture pieces and lug them from house to house.  If you move into a new abode, they will simply pick up the old and send the new selections to your new space with no delivery charges. If you grow tired of of the furniture you selected, they will change the pieces out at no change.  In 2018, Waverly and Ikea sold just shy of 15 billion dollars of furniture in the US. Do you think Feathers VC’s might profit from their investment?

Is this the tipping point where we own less and rent when we need a specific product or service?  In many instances it makes so much more sense to rent versus own. If an item costs $150 to buy brand-new or $35 to rent, as the old saying goes, if I use it 4 times I break even.  Is investing in those “IF”s a good investment strategy?

A few relevant links:

Image courtesy of Ksenia Sergeeva via Pixabay

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