Dear Brands, Our Relationship has Changed

Dear John

Dear Brands,I want an open relationship.

All my life, we’ve had a committed and dedicated relationship.  You told me what to buy.  I bought it and I bought it again.  But now, that’s about to change.  I don’t want to buy from you directly.  I want to rent, subscribe to, and borrow your goods.  If I end up buying your product, I want to use it with others to resell, rent to others, swap or lend.

It’s not you, it’s me.

Our world has changed, and along with it, my preferences.  From a more socially responsible mindset, economic pressures are sufficient, and technology makes it for me to find other consumers who can supply the things I need, virtually on demand.  Here’s how my behavior chains changing:

I will use AirBnb to find vacation spots, rather than stay at hotels.  I will use Uber and Lyft to get around town, rather than hire a traditional taxi.  I just put my spare car on RelayRide to rent out to others.  For my wife’s birthday, I bought her a subscription to Rent the Runway, rather than buying her a new dress.

At work, we’ve tapped into LiquidSpace to rent office space on demand.  I use Taskrabbit to hire folks at the office rather than using traditional staffing models.  We’ve bought refurbished laptops for our staff. Most of our software is already on demand.

Because of this, I’m more interested in renting, subscribing to, or borrowing products, rather than buying outright.  If I do choose to buy a product, I want to make sure it has great resale value so that I can sell it or rent it to make money.

It also means that the relationship I have with other people matters.  Now, I rent my car on RelayRide or sell my used electronics on Gazelle.  The trusted relationships I have with other customers matters as much, if not more, than my relationship with you.

I still love you, but in a different way.

If you want to be in a relationship with me, recognize that it’s not going to be exclusive.  What happens between us has changed.  I need you to change, as I want to rent, borrow, subscribe, co-op, and swap, rather than buy.

Ergo: I just want access to your offerings.  I don’t need to own then.



Jeremiah Owyang
Speaker, Writer, Business Owner, Consumer

PS: To learn more, you can read the rest of my thinking on how brands can leverage this movement, called the Collaborative Economy.

Image credit used with creative commons, by MyEye.