With Generational Shifts, The New Sharing Economy Flourishes

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Over the past decade, researchers have noted key behavioral characteristics of the millennial generation. Fewer millennials are willing to spend their money on expensive consumer goods, such as cars and homes, perhaps because they came of age in the Great Recession.

As millennial rent their homes and share their cars, they're doing so in cities, rather than suburbia, a trend that also fuels the sharing economy.

Arun Sundararajan, professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, is an expert on the sharing economy. He says the new investment in renting is fueled by the rise of the internet and urbanization, and he sees the focus on sharing as an innovative avenue of consumption with potential to expand the economy.

The millenial tendency to rent caught the eye of Jennifer Hyman, the co-founder and CEO of Rent the Runway, a company that allows its customers to rent luxury designer clothes and accessories for a tenth of the retail price. 

"Across many different sectors of the economy, I saw that consumers had more willingness to rent things," Hyman explains. "We see this in the music business where we've gone from buying songs on iTunes to renting our music via services like Spotify. Or in transportation we’re using services today like Zipcar, Uber, Halo and Lyft.

"There’s definitely been a generational shift in what we value and what we purchase," Jennifer adds. "If you look at average people in their 20s or their 30s today, they’re spending relatively less of their salary on things like purchasing a home, purchasing furniture, and relatively more on experiences, like going on trips, or having the collection of memories that they have."


Jennifer Hyman and Arun Sundararajan

Produced by:

Jillian Weinberger


T.J. Raphael

Comments [3]

Mari Vega from Dallas

The recognition that the planet's natural resources are finite is ever topical so thanks for this show. I'm just now setting up a photo of my matchbox collection. It's time to take a picture and then use these up and give them away. Once upon a time, this seemed like a collection that could be easily accommodated but now they collect dust. I'm aspiring to live in a tiny house of my own design where collections of "stuff" will not fit. Larry Fisher, sorry for the predicament you are in. Maybe there's an opportunity to setup a diorama of sorts and charge people to take photos within it.

Sep. 18 2013 12:53 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

I am sick and tired of our healthy trends... where are all my Collier Brothers?!

For 30 years I have been a collectibles dealer in toys, records and books. People used to feel the need to isolate themselves and barricade within their bunker apartments; books and records were great insulators of noise and old toys comforted our chaotic emotions of a crazy political world.

Now, people come to the flea market and take pictures of my cool items and say,"Oh, this is wonderful. I must have it on my desktop and send it to people round the world. Look, what I found..." they no longer buy it, it is enough for them to look at a photo.

As they use their phone like a Star Trek Science tri corder on a distant planet:

"That 45 you have is super cool looking and it isn't anywhere on the web...so, instead of selling it to me for 2 bucks, can you give it to me, so I can download it for people around the world to have?


Sep. 18 2013 12:41 PM
maria balinska from Cambridge MA

Fascinating subject. This is happening worldwide too - November 14 last year was Global Sharing Day. Here's Latitude News's take on that story for people who want to read more... http://www.latitudenews.com/story/how-sharing-can-save-the-world-seriously/

Sep. 18 2013 11:36 AM

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