Is 'Renting the New Buying'?

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by: John Caddell

Hobby Princess blogs very infrequently these days (I’m guessing that a new baby in the house has something to do with that). Nonetheless, when she posts, it’s essential reading. Her most recent post, "Renting Is The New Buying," theorizes how the recession might alter our consumption habits.

She writes:

Cheap things don’t feel like luxury, because luxury is not just a sensual, but also a social experience.

In the recent Sex and the City movie there is a wonderful experience of consuming luxury in a sustainable way. Carrie notices that her assistant-to-be brings a genuine Luis Vuitton handbag to the job interview and asks the young woman (Jennifer Hudson) how she can afford it. Her answer is: “I rented it”. Indeed a breed of new online services, such as,, and offer designer dresses, hats, bags, sunglasses, and jewellery for hire.

We are already used to rent apartments, washing machines, paintings, bikes, laptops, phones, copy machines, badminton rackets, power tools, and even pets for short periods of time. But perhaps we should think about renting and borrowing on a broader scale, as a real alternative to owning.

John Quelch has written about the rise of the "simplifiers," who are getting rid of their stuff and downsizing. This group still invests in experiences–often "rented"–like vacations.

So, what do you say? Are we starting to simplify? And will that mean renting more and more of what we use?

Related post:
The era of cheap s–t is over

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