As Westfield London encourages its customers to rent their Christmas decorations this year, GDR’s John O’Sullivan explores 2020’s best new access-over-ownership propositions.
Westfield London is promoting the sustainability-focused access-over-ownership trend this Christmas via a pop-up store that allows customers to rent a selection of decorations and tableware from across its retailers.
Customers at the “A Very Rental Christmas” pop-up can explore products from Next, Marks and Spencer, H&M, Zara, and West Elm and rent them until early January. The products, which include eco-friendly potted Christmas trees, a range of decorative lights, and tableware “to create the ultimate table for six”, have been curated along four themes by TV celebrity Laura Whitmore and a team of interior design specialists. These themes include: Great Gatsby, Japandi (Japan meets Scandi), Dreaming of a White Christmas and Monochrome Romance.
By bundling together products from across their many lifestyle retailers Westfield has created a proposition that’s stronger than the sum of its parts, while championing one of the key retail trends of the year – rental. Indeed, the new concept store was created after Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield’s How We Shop research found that 40% of UK millennials have requested to rent trees this festive season, as well as decorations (38%), board games (30%), Christmas jumpers (28%) and table settings (28%).
This year we’ve seen brands, retailers and businesses across myriad sectors challenging traditional notions of ownership by testing rental schemes. These are the ones that have really caught our eye:
Access-over-ownership car brand Lynk & Co, whose app allows owners to rent their cars out to others when they’re not using them, has launched its first physical location, The Amsterdam Club. Part showroom/part social club, it is positioned as a place for members to meet, have a drink at the bar, and agree to loan their cars to one another for a fee.
Like Lynk & Co, The Shed is a new platform that allows consumers to make money out of the items they only use occasionally. Launched in Richmond, Virginia, the Airbnb-style offer lets people rent tools, sports gear, outdoor equipment, and everything needed to throw an event or party from other consumers. All items stay in The Shed’s warehouse, thus freeing up space in owners’ homes. The owner can still use their products up to six days a year for free, and will take 30% of any rental fee paid.
TULU is a rental platform that enables residents from the same apartment block to rent a wide range of appliances and equipment from a ‘TULU room’ in their building. Residents just need to choose an item to rent on the TULU app, and head to the dedicated TULU room in their building before scanning the product’s QR code and taking it home. Like a library for tools and consumer electronics products, when they’re finished they drop it off and scan again with the appropriate rate automatically taken from their card.
Eco-conscious Scandinavian fashion brand Ganni has collaborated with Levi’s on a limited-edition collection that is only available to rent. Adding an element of premiumisation to the clothing rental category, all of the pieces in the Love Letter collection are made from offcuts from the Levi’s production processes or upcycled second-hand materials. Interestingly, an NFC tag on each item unlocks some rich digital storytelling about the history of each individual piece of material used in the product, as well as the customers who have worn the item before them.
By Rotation is a sustainability-focused peer-to-peer clothing and handbag rental service that allows users to freshen up their wardrobe without having to buy brand new products. Users can track the “positive savings” of their rentals by seeing the decrease in textile waste, water and CO2 as a result of them renting, rather than buying clothes.
Premium exercise brand On Running has launched a fully-recyclable zero-waste running shoe that is only available to rent via a monthly subscription service. Billed as “The running shoe you will never own”, it is made from castor beans and when a customer is finished with it, it can be 100% recycled, with On Running using the constituent parts to make new Cyclons, or other items including skateboards.
Consumer electronics brand Candy has created a washing machine rental service built around a smart proprietary washer that reorders detergent when it is running low. After paying a one-off set up charge of £69, consumers rent the machine for £6.90 per month, which includes detergent, fabric softener and a range of connected technology features.