Rental bags are now seen as a quick and easy way for consumers to access luxury brands that they might never have been able to afford using the usual, old fashioned way of consumption i.e. retailing. This move is a direct result of a transumerism culture and attitude. Transumerism in this case refers to a trend in which consumers look to achieve temporary pleasure or experiences through the services and products they purchase.
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Transumers prefer this kind of lifestyle because they get to escape the restrictions that come with permanent ownership (Sterba, 2009). Those restrictions may be monetary or otherwise. Renting luxury bags as is the case with thatbagiwant.com, allows a consumer to gain fractional ownership of the commodity. These individuals may be interested in keeping up with trends and opt to do so through such businesses.
On the other hand, these kinds of trends may be brought on by environmental concerns. The leasing lifestyle allows more people to use less products or it propagates reuse of items. This in essence means less waste and fewer detriments to the environment.
Alternatively, some people may be renting bags because they are simply addicted to the excitement of new things. They would rather not be bogged down by the restrictions that come with ownership so thatibagiwant.com allows them to indulge in this practice.
Telis and Gaeth (1990) explain that consumers often access the quality of a commodity through its price. Consequently, expensive luxury brands are often believed to be high quality. Sellers are likely to sell these brands at relatively high prices in order to appeal to status conscious buyers. These kinds of buyers usually seek to impress others and they usually do this by expensive products (Dubois and Patrick Duquesne, 1993).
However, since not all status conscious consumers have money to buy expensive products at one go then businessmen are working around this problem by offering them rental options or rent to own contracts. Eventually, those consumers can still impress others by owning designer handbags without having to part with a lot of money at once while businessmen can move their goods to wider markets.
Such trends are also becoming popular because consumers also want to improve their self concept in their groups. Berry (1994) explains that sometimes products are really used to illustrate a person’s membership in a certain group. In other words, conformance to group values often causes members to feel like they belong.
Many will use a certain product to either stand out from other groups or to affiliate themselves with prestigious groups (Bearden & Etzel, 1989). The reference theory of consumer behaviour is particularly relevant in understanding this phenomenon. Sometimes markets may possess several reference groups and their demands usually compete with those ones on one’s own group.
In such situations, consumption trends will be dictated by the reference group rather than that group. In other situations though, people may conform to their group’s assertions and those is often the case. Usually, these opinions maybe formed through mass media i.e. magazines and televisions.
When it comes to handbags, most people will associate designer handbags with an affluent lifestyle as seen through their favourite celebrities (Hirschman, 1988). They usually form ideologies about what it means to be prestigious using these stereotypes displayed on TV and the like. Designer handbags have been flaunted by many celebrities and young women from all over the country often look for prestige through such outlets.
Eventually, these designer handbags become status symbols for groups in colleges and other institutions which have a vast number of young people. Most will rent handbags in order to conform to the reference group which holds such items in high esteem. This is definitely one reason why the rent a luxury bag business has become popular.
Renting luxury bags has also become common owing to internal factors associated to consumers. Individuals may simply buy a luxury brand because they want to derive certain benefits from it. In other words, these consumers purchase in order to increase their level of excitement or beauty as they go along. Many luxuries have been marketed as having unique value since they are pleasing to the eye.
Some consumers have heard such messages and may actually want to experience that emotional satisfaction although their major challenge has been money. Businessmen have solved this problem by offering them that same pleasure without the need to purchase it.
Even low budget consumers can therefore get to enjoy the benefits of this luxury brand as they go along changing their positions. They can therefore get partial fulfilment even though they may not have been able to in the past (Kahle. 1995)
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Some external factors have also contributed to this trend and they include economic challenges as well as technological advancement. The UK economy had been down for some time, consequently, people needed to look for ways of saving the little money they were making.
Most of these consumers may have been high end consumers who could no longer afford luxury bags after the economic slump or they may have been regular consumers who simply wanted a taste of the affluent lifestyle. Businessmen responded to this need by offering them renting options for designer handbags. These individuals could therefore keep up with the lifestyle they were used to at affordable rates.
Additionally, they could do this at their own discretion and without the knowledge of their peers. Renting designer bags may also been boosted by the proliferation of online businesses. These have brought products and services to consumers who would never have been aware or who may never have thought of using them.
Also businesses have benefited from the use of internet technologies by saving on overhead costs associated with retail outlets and by having an extremely wide consumer base. Most rental options for luxury bags are found on the internet so this is definitely indicative of the fact that technology has played a huge role in popularising the trend.
The target market for these rental designer bags will therefore consist of fashion conscious individuals who are economically challenged. It will also appeal to transumers who have a need for excitement and new things all the time. In certain countries, the trend may work better than in others because of economic conditions (Vigneron & Johnson, 1999).
If economic times are tough for a while then this could offer an easy outlet for people who are trying to save up. Therefore, the trend may work in countries whose economies are on the decline. They may also be appropriate for financially stable countries which have many affluent consumers.
Chances of finding transumers in developed nations are higher than in non developed ones. Some nations of the world may not understand the concept of designer handbags and such a business may not work well in these countries.
I would not rent a bag if I was asked because of a number of reasons. If one was interesting in renting a bag for ownership, then one would not be impressed by the terms of purchase. The final selling price is definitely much higher than the cost of the designer bag.
I also realise that in this arrangement, the handbag can be repossessed if I fail to meet my weekly or periodical obligations when am interested in purchasing the product; a scenario common to most lease agreements (Lacko, 2007). Furthermore, the business has no cash refundable option if one changes one’s mind about buying a bag.
All one gets are some baggie points which limit one’s options to renting yet another bag. Also, if one was interesting in renting the bag alone, there could be the danger that the bags are not original designer bags. The company affirms that all its bags are retailed from top designer outlets; however, the firm has an option for renting out its customers’ bags too.
Here, a member gets into the M-RTO program and they are expected to prove that they obtained the bag from a reputable reseller or they got it from a boutique which is well known. They usually do this with authenticity cards or receipts.
The major problem with this kind of approach is that some resellers may not be strict about the authenticity of the bag and if that bag comes to thatbagiwant.com then chances are people will be renting non original bags from the company. This is quite a big loophole that the company needs to address in order to prevent such kinds of problems in the future (Rent a bag, 2011).
If the company wanted to get my business then they should simply streamline their MRTO programme such that strictly designer bags are bought and introduced into their system. They can achieve this by making sure that they do not deal with any bags that were bought from resellers as that could the point at which the quality of their products are tarnished.
Furthermore, the company needs to improve its rent for ownership program. Customers end up paying much higher prices than normal. The company should cut down on these prices and lay it out in the website. The non refundable option should be scrapped so as to make this option plausible.
Also, they should be clear about the ninety five percent buy back option. In their explanation, they assert that they are willing to buy back a handbag for as much as ninety five percent. They did not explain the conditions needed to get it at a lower rate.
In the future, it is likely that luxury bags may lack the exclusivity that they possessed before if rental bags become so common. In other words, designer products will now come to the mass market and the affluent will not be such a prime target market for sellers of these commodities. However Groth and McDaniel (1993) explain that high prices often make certain products desirable because there is a quality cue linked to them.
Affluent consumers may no longer treat luxury bags as high quality products if so many of them are available to the masses. Therefore, designer bag makers may lose out on the high end but will gain on the low end of the market (Erickson and Johansson, 1985).
Alternatively, it is likely that the future may also record greater diversification in this luxury renting business. It should be noted that in the past, car rentals and wedding dress rentals were the staple. Now, companies specialising with jewellery, party dresses and bags have become common.
In the future, it is likely that more and more categories will be added into this exciting new industry. Also, membership prices and rental costs will dramatically reduced because there will be greater competition between such businesses. It will also lead to greater levels of exposure among the population because designer brands will be more accessible (Jackson, 2005).
Rental luxury brands are definitely a force to reckon with in today’s business world because they have created totally different markets for companies. They are also meeting needs of fashion ‘addicts’ with minimal income to spare for such indulgences.
Furthermore, they are a response to the transumerism culture prevalent today. Things will definitely look up for this industry in the future because it will provide access to unreachable consumers.
Jackson, K. (2005). Renting a handful of luxury. The Boston Globe, October 13, 2005.
Vigneron, F. & Johnson, L. (1999). A review and a conceptual framework of prestige seeking consumer behaviour. Academy of marketing science review, 1(3), 1-17.
Rent a bag (2011). Rent a bag in Singapore. Web.
Sterba, J. (2009). Transumerism: What does it mean for your business? Marketing Intelligence, July 27, 2009.
Lacko, J. (2007). Staff report: rent to own customers. FTC Bureau of economic report.
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