New research from Zipcar, one of the largest car sharing services in the world (yes they have a vested interest in this), is suggesting that millenials are less obsessed with acquiring material possessions than previous generations, where ownership often represents wealth and supposed happiness. Whereas, we would rather use our smart phones and other technologies to quickly access services that cost less (preferably free) and provide the same or more satisfaction.
According to the study, one in five residents of the UK under 55 say they are more likely to rent than they were just a year ago. This is double the amount of residents over age 55 who would rather rent than buy.
This may sound like a worrisome shift in the economy for some entrepreneurs, but companies like Zipcar are showing that all you have to do is redirect your thinking to accommodate the preferences of your biggest customer base.
“A number of years ago we noticed a paradigm shift in thinking, away from a desire to own assets to a more collaborative wish to access services, which is more sustainable in the longer term,” said Mark Walker, General Manager of Zipcar UK. “We spotted a gap in the market for a new car hire model with collaboration at its heart: a pay-as-you-drive model for a pay-as-you-live lifestyle. This is made possible by new technologies and a desire amongst our members to simplify and improve the way they get around, on a trip-by-trip basis.”
The Zipcar survey notes on-going maintenance costs, depreciation, and the flexibility to upgrade or change models as some of the biggest factors in determining whether to rent or purchase goods, particularly vehicles. Many younger adults would also consider “renting” less traditional items such as children’s toys, clothing, and even art as they become more comfortable with the lifestyle.
If companies come out with rental opportunities for products that are simple and low-risk enough to attract even the most skeptical users, this could become an everyday way for future generations to live more sustainably. If you’re only using your car once a week or you’re easily bored with your wardrobe and furniture, what’s the point in buying something and selling it on Craig’s List for a quarter of the price a year or two later?
How far would you go in renting material possessions or services as opposed to owning doing them yourself?
Image CC licensed by Ian Collins: Zipcar