Millenials Redefine Wealth in The Post-Ownership Economy

While our parents’ generation viewed ownership as a symbol of wealth, ownership doesn’t suit ever-changing tastes of millennials. Our desire to have access to the latest in entertainment, beauty, and fashion has resulted in a new economy in which wealth takes on a new meaning. This new economy is based upon subscriptions and rented goods and services that cater to millennials’ dynamic nature. Subscription and rental startups are entering the market at a remarkable rate.

In the late 1900s and early 2000s home storage space was devoted to old VHSs, CDs, and books. Closet space was devoted to clothes no longer deemed wearable. Our parents’ obsession with ownership eventually resulted in clutter they wanted so badly to get rid of, and when they did get rid of it, it was for much less than they initially paid to own it.

Long gone are the days of physical movie, music, and book collections. Movie buffs have streaming options like Netflix and Hulu and rental services like Redbox. Music devotees no longer need a tape or disc collection to be legitimate with today’s streaming services like Spotify. Book worms are better off getting a Kindle Unlimited subscription than purchasing books they read once and then set on the shelf to collect dust. These entertainment subscriptions offer more variety than one can handle- the upshot of the capitalist dream.

Subscription services also cater to millenials’ beauty dynamics. Girls who seek cutting edge beauty products can subscribe to periodical beauty boxes like Ipsy, Beautycon, Play! by Sephora, and Allure Beauty Box. These beauty boxes allow beauty product junkies to sample the latest and greatest product curations by the beauty mavens they look up to, such as bloggers and editors.

That expensive perfume collection decorating womens’ shelves? Possibly a thing of the past. Perfume startup Scentbird is a monthly perfume subscription service that delivers a 30 day supply of perfume at $15 a month. Like other subscription services, it provides subscribers the opportunity to be true connoisseurs on a budget.

Trend-followers know the frustration of finding the clothing articles they scrambled to fill their closet with to be passé just months later. Millenials who want access to the fashion du jour would find it in their best interest to subscribe to clothing rental sites. These subscriptions are picked by either the shopper or a personal stylist based upon shoppers’ preferences. Current clothing rental sites like Letote and The Ms. Collection carry luxury clothing. MineforNine and BorrowforYourBump are just a few of the maternity clothing rental sites. This market is in its early stages with few contenders catering to women under the age of 25. We can expect more clothing subscription services in the future for the younger, more fickle millenials, and even the up-and-coming Generation Z.

Between car insurance, car payments, and maintenance, many millennials are finding that car ownership is not as liberating as our parents made it out to be. Car sharing services cater mainly to tourists and college students. There is Zipcar, which allows daily or hourly car rental with an affordable monthly subscription. There are also peer-to-peer car sharing services like Turo and GetAround, which offer the opportunity for car owners to make money off their car by renting it out to people nearby.

Yes, this means we millenials have less accumulated goods to show for money spent, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Our goods and services revolve around our lives- not the other way around. In this new economy, wealth doesn’t mean amassing depreciated fossils of our past interests. Wealth means having access to what we want (the latest!) when we want it (now!).