Renting culture getting popular

Youngsters today, prefer renting clothes, furniture and even electronic items, instead of buying them

Rentomojo

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s remarks linking millennials’ preference for Uber and Ola cabs to the auto sector crisis, a few months ago, had created a frenzy on social media a few months ago. While her comment comes from a place of ignorance, it shed light on the spending choices of the current generation.

Most people in their late 20s and early 30s are not only renting transportation services, but also houses, furniture, electronics, clothes and even workspaces. Many refer to this inclination to rent over owning things as the ‘Netflix economy’.
This new way of consumption has been accelerated by the growing number of start-ups that allow people to rent various utilities.

What can you rent?

Recognising that there are people with store rooms stuffed with items that are barely used, many entrepreneurs have started providing platforms that allow them to lend these belongings to those in need. Instead of purchasing items that may be required for a short
duration, such as speakers for a party, this system allows people to rent these items at a nominal fee, establishing a win-win situation for both parties.

Start-ups that aid this trend either rent items themselves or serve as middlemen, connecting people who want something with people who own it. 

Those who serve as middlemen, such as Bengaluru-based portal ‘Rentomo’, work on a peer-to-peer level. To ensure that the items remain safe, they help connect people within trusted
communities or network to find someone who is willing to lend what they need. 

In other cases, when the company itself lends products, they often have customer service in place. ‘Rentomojo’ is a website that works in this fashion. They offer a broad range of daily use products such as furniture, electronic appliances, and fitness equipment. They even provide a combination of these products along with added perks of  free maintenance and relocation. Vishnu Prasad, who moved to Bengaluru two years ago, rents a washing machine from Rentomojo.

“I have changed homes five times, and since they help with relocation, I have been spared the agony of transporting it each time.”

Some platforms also make niche products available for their customers. ‘Toehold’ allows customers in Bengaluru, Mumbai and Pune, to borrow sophisticated camera equipment.

‘Rent It Bae’, which has now acquired the start-up ‘Flyrobe’, is a fashion rental service based out of Delhi. It allows customers to rent clothes (ethnic and western) and accessories such as handbags, and watches from some of the most notable brands around the world. ‘Rentjewels.com’ rents out jewellery. 

The ease at which these items are found and delivered to your doorstep also contributes to this growing trend. Those who wish to try out an item before making an investment would also find renting a feasible option.

For many, renting allows them the opportunity to access and use designer products that would otherwise remain inaccessible and unaffordable. Shubham (name changed), an
aspiring filmmaker says that he often rents lights and camera lenses during shoots. “Since I’m only starting out, I can not afford to own expensive camera equipment. Of course, I have to take extra care of the rented items as I might have to pay for any damage.”

Renting culture is not without its flaws. What happens if someone stains the dress being rented, crashes the car or breaks the sofa? The companies have different ways to deal with the risks, such as deposit fees. However, often the deposit fees or damage charges works up to the same price as renting the item, in the first place.

Another argument that crops up is that the same amount that goes towards renting a piece of furniture can be put towards buying the same on EMI.

However, with the younger generation making a move towards an economy of experience which places value on experiences over possessions, anticipating a new belonging can bring more happiness than actually owning it, studies have shown. Instead of accepting that the glow of a new purchase has worn off, this system allows them the opportunity to replace the item with a new one.

Does this mean that the consumer culture will have changed for the good? Only time will tell.

Power banks on rent catching up

Church Street-based restaurant ‘The Carnatic’ is the latest to catch up on trend of renting culture.

They had introduced the renting of power banks in their sister establishment, ‘Wall Street’ at JP Nagar, when customers started asking them where they could charge their phones. A gizmo, which can hold 10 power banks and is operated through an app, is kept right at the Carnatic’s entrance. When Metrolife paid a visit, nine of the power banks were still in their slot; one was out on duty.

When asked about how successful the power banks have been, the in-charge said, “It hasn’t been that successful, but it’s slowly picking up. We got it just a week ago. So, it’s only been used 2-3 times.”

The power banks come with three in-built chargers, a USB type, a C-type and an iPhone charger.

To borrow a power bank, the customer will have to make a deposit of Rs 200 rupees, which will be refunded. The rent for each power bank is Rs 3 per hour or Rs 10 per day.

The entire set-up, which the restaurant got from the company ‘Plugo’, do not cost them anything.

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