For Rent: Everything
Younger consumers weaned on lifestyles their overspent parents couldn’t actually afford have developed a penchant for luxury and instant gratification, even when their incomes don’t support it. People are “using the rental economy as a form of leverage,” says Michael Silverstein, an expert in consumer markets at the Boston Consulting Group who studies spending patterns. “Our values and culture are pushing people toward consumption now instead of consumption later. You don’t invest in things you want to keep because you’re not building a nest. It’s a major change in the U.S. economy.”
I’m not sure if being able to rent designer clothes, diamond necklaces, or luxury cars by the hour has made us into the type of consumers who don’t understand delayed gratification, but I do think we live in a time where you can pretty much rent anything you want—but don’t want to own—and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. At the wedding I was at this weekend, a friend mentioned how lucky I was that I could just wear the same suit over and over again at all the weddings I’ll be attending, but she’ll have to buy a new dress for each wedding she attends. I’m sure not everyone feels the need to have a new look for all these wedding photos we’ll be in, but I suppose that’s where being able to rent a nice dress would become pretty handy.