According to a new survey, 27 percent of consumers have rented a product instead of purchasing it in the past year and 56 percent would be open to it in 2014.
But those numbers promise to rise in the future with Millennials more open to renting, according to the 2014 Future of Retail Study from Walker Sands, a public relations and digital agency.
Of consumers between the age of 18 and 25, 37 percent have already participated in renting an item this year instead of buying, with 63 percent open to renting instead of buying in the next year. The 18-25 year-olds were 90 percent more likely to have participated in renting instead of buying compared to those over the age of 60.
The study found that renting opportunities are being driven by increased crowdsourcing options and the arrival of rental subscription services across many categories. While most generations have rented in the past year instead of buying because they didn't have a use for the item afterwards, Millennials report renting specifically to save money and because they wanted to try a new service. The study also suggested frustration with the return process may also drive rentals at higher rates in the next few years.
Among categories, Millennials are most likely to have rented books (25 percent have done so) and consumer electronics (12 percent have done so). Comparatively, only 9 percent of those over the age of 60 have rented books and only 6 percent have rented consumer electronics.
The study also found that rental of luxury, sporting goods and tools is likely to grow exponentially in the next year. The luxury opportunity is supported by services such as Rent the Runway, which enables women to rent designer evening gowns, as well as subscription services such as Le Tote for apparel and accessories and Eleven James for watches. Pleygo rents Lego sets for a monthly fee.
"Just as we've seen e-commerce growth vary across industries, we're starting to see the same trend with product rental," said Tory Patrick, account director and lead of the retail technology practice at Walker Sands in a statement.
What is the likelihood that renting will become more widespread over the next three to five years?