Reasons to rent the next sofa without buying it

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Before finally moving to California, one grandson of a wealthy client of interior designer Philis Harbinger, who had just graduated from college, might buy furniture for an apartment he and his girlfriend found in the New York area. Instead, I chose to rent furniture.

“They said,’I don’t know what we want to do. We don’t want to get married and we want to be sustainable,’” said Harbinger, vice chairman of the interior design department at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Told. Research Institute. “This generation is very enthusiastic about its reuse and repurchases the spirit to save the planet for them and their children.”

Office furniture rental has a long history, but there is a growing demand for furniture rental, especially among young consumers who prefer a more mobile lifestyle than older generations.

Online furniture startups such as Feather and Furnish allow customers to rent furniture for just three months at a time and offer the option to replace furniture if they feel comfortable during or at the end of the contract. increase. Something is different.

Appeal to young mobile customers

Feather and Furnish said, “We meet the needs of people who don’t want to commit to ownership of large, bulky furniture because they have money but don’t have time to buy furniture and expect to move. It’s young. Demographics. ” Says Susan Inglis, Executive Director of the Sustainable Furniture Council.

The rent options offered by these startups also appeal to people who don’t have enough money to buy right away, but want high-quality work that they can start living right away, she says. I did.

Feather customers are in their 20s and 30s and tend to live and work in the city. This service is ideal for people who have just moved, are about to move, or live with their roommates and move every six months to a year. Ilyse Kaplan, the company’s president and chief operating officer, wrote in an email.

It’s also more affordable for those traveling to new states that can cost $ 4,300 to $ 4,800, or traveling on roads averaging $ 1,250 in most cities, Kaplan said. I am. Feather customers “can set up a basic studio apartment for just $ 105 a month, or a basic one-bedroom apartment for $ 150 a month.”

Feather cites the “significant growth” of new home leasing since the launch of Covid-19, the start of remote and hybrid work, greater economic uncertainty, and the need for a more flexible living environment. “As the living environment has changed in response to the pandemic, we have reduced the number of dining room items in exchange for more functional home office items,” Kaplan said.

Rent furniture to make it more sustainable

Brick and mortar furniture brands like IKEA are also looking for leasing models. For Swedish retailers, the rental experiment is part of a grand plan to move to a cyclical business model by 2030, eventually using only renewable or recycled raw materials and products. Assembling and disassembling, and recycling and diversion of used goods or their components.

IKEA began testing the circular furniture subscription model in 2019, but progress has been somewhat delayed due to pandemic-related restrictions, Kicki Murbeck, Circular Business Designer, Ingka Group’s Circular Innovation Team, wrote in an email. increase. The Ingka Group is the leading franchise of the IKEA brand, with retail operations in 32 markets, accounting for about 90% of IKEA’s total retail sales.

Based on previous testing in several European countries, the company introduced a limited rollout of B2B editions called IKEA rentals in six markets in Finland, Sweden, Demark, Norway, Spain and Poland in 2021. did. After testing several contract options, such as contract terms and banking partners, IKEA evaluates the results before deciding on the next step, Marveck said.

Inglis relies on cheaper materials to better accommodate the nomadic lifestyle and rents higher quality furniture in response to the growing popularity of “fast furniture,” which often becomes landfills. I am thinking about my interest.

“People were fed up with disposable junk, and many years ago, the furniture industry became unhappy in itself by making serious efforts towards throwing away furniture,” she said.

Feather, which currently serves 10 major US markets such as New York, Washington DC, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, switches furniture items during the lease, even if space, needs, or aesthetic preferences change. And we will provide one for free. Exchange for customers in each home and make additional changes for a fee. Currently, about 14% of customers use swap options.

“We are actively working to keep all kinds of furniture away from the landfill,” Kaplan said, and by repeatedly refurbishing and relocating all items, the furniture is now being scrapped from the landfill. He said it accounts for about 7% of all things.

Feather furniture is designed with durable materials and component systems that support the process, but “if the part is no longer viable for the next customer, the first step is the Floor Found aspirations. Finding furniture in collaboration with like-minded partners. New homes. If you can’t resell an item, donate through a partnership with Habitat for Humanity, “says Kaplan.

Inglis said the trend for retailers offering refurbishment services is expected to grow dramatically over the next few years.

Before the popularity of furniture leasing grows, there are customer awareness challenges to solve. IKEA has heard that customers seeking long-term rentals have expressed concerns about how to care for their products and the terms and conditions of the contract if something breaks or isn’t handled properly. It needs to be clear to both parties.

IKEA finds that the mindshift required to fully understand the subscription model is easier for younger consumers than for older ones. Consumers of Generation X and above tend to associate their subscriptions with the rental purchase model. This has historically paid more than prepaid, but excludes the full range of repair, maintenance, and return services currently offered by retailers.

IKEA franchisees also need to move away from the linear sales model and develop a digital product tracking system that allows them to distribute products from one customer to another and scale up their subscription services.

IKEA already sells recycled and reused products in certain markets and plans to expand this as a key component of the transformation of the sound-cycle business. In November 2020, we opened a second-hand pop-up store exclusively for retailers selling recycled organic and sustainable products at a shopping mall in Eskilstuna, Sweden. In the first year of the testing period, over 30,000 IKEA products were given a second life at the pop-up store, and in December 2021 IKEA extended the program for another year.

“The round furniture subscription service we are testing is not just the product itself, but of course very important, but it can change and understand what our customers need and want. It’s also about being able to meet certain needs. Over time. “

— —By a special David Bogoslaw on CNBC.com

Reasons to rent the next sofa without buying it

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