A time-consuming shopping cycle centered around owning goods permanently just doesn’t cut it anymore.
photo via UKfashionnetwork.com
The influence of our youngest generation on how we spend time and money has always been incredibly strong, and Gen Z is no different (as a self-proclaimed Grandma Gen Zer I’d like to take partial responsibility for this). As the first generation to grow up with the rapid sharing of information at their fingertips, Gen Z show us what will really be important in the creation of brands and business models moving forward.
Under the notion that the truth is Gen Z's North Star, Tracy Francis and Fernanda Hoefel of McKinsey & Company identify the primary characteristics of their consumer trends: access over ownership; self-expression and individuality over status; and ethics alongside realistic demands. Let’s look at how renting services are intrinsically set up to meet Gen Z’s values:
As the first generation to grow up with the rapid sharing of information at their fingertips, Gen Z show us what will really be important in the creation of brands and business models moving forward:
1. Access over ownership
2. Self-expression and individuality over status
3. Ethics alongside realistic demands
First, access vs. ownership. Commitment issues may be a problem for relationships, but they certainly don’t need to be for clothes. Honestly, how often can we post a picture of ourselves in a repeat outfit on Instagram? It seems like never. Maybe our age is too shallow...or maybe these business models are too limiting! Regardless, renting clothes also helps us be people that don’t have a bunch of stuff they don’t want or need (and to be honest, clutter doesn’t really go with the whole ‘minimalist’ vibe we’re going for), while freeing us from responsibilities like dry cleaning, ironing, etc.
Commitment issues may be a problem for relationships, but they certainly don’t need to be for clothes.
Next, let’s look at self-expression – something that is essential to the human experience. Clothes have the potential to be part of our creative outlet, but too many people resonate with the thought that they don’t have the funds to wear their true style. Or because the clothes they buy are meant to be had permanently, they feel the need to go with the practical brown jacket that “goes with everything” over the hot pink one. And that’s no fun.
As far as ethics go, it’s no surprise that around 80% of Gen Z-ers will stop buying from certain brands whose values are not in line with their own (Francis and Hoefel 2018)—and they can and will use the internet to check. There are a plethora of issues against which companies can take a stand, but an increasingly significant one is environmental sustainability. While fast fashion brands may have prices, accessibility, and trendiness competitive with a rent-out service, their environmental impact is far more unattractive to buyers. And that’s starting to matter more and more these days.
Unsurprisingly, with the addition of the amazing and sometimes psychotic beast that is the internet, the needs and desires of consumers have changed. A time-consuming shopping cycle centered around owning goods permanently just doesn’t cut it anymore. The group of people who grew up with iPads in their hands is not only able to keep up with the information overload, but able to implement it in their lives to enhance their values. Unlike previous generations, what this rising generation cares about the most is the facts, because only through realism can we decide the best ways to move authentically in the world that we do. Businesses that can focus on a rent-out model are becoming increasingly more fit to cater to the demands of this fluid, yet realistic generation.