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Renting pre-owned goods

20 October 2019

Researchers from Cardiff University want to understand more about participation in the sharing economy as a more sustainable form of consumption.

While awareness among the general public is at an all-time high, few are willing to make the lifestyle changes necessary to match the scale of the climate change emergency. Dr Nicole Koenig-Lewis and Dr Carmela Bosangit, both marketing experts from Cardiff Business School, have been awarded a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant to find out more about consumer attitudes towards pre-owned and brand new goods in the hope our consumption patterns can be changed to prevent irreversible impact on our planet.

Valuable insights

The ongoing project has seen the researchers speak to various sharing economy platforms about the experiences and challenges faced renting out goods such as toys and clothes, tools and baby equipment.

These valuable insights helped the team understand how and why this business model has not yet become mainstream, despite its potential to address problems related to waste and climate change.

Reflecting on their conversations with a variety of sharing economy platforms, Dr Bosangit said: “Businesses have noticed an increased numbers of users over the years, but highlighted the importance of consumers’ awareness and education about the services offered to be able to appreciate the benefits of renting goods online.

“Most of the business owners said that word-of-mouth recommendations have helped them greatly in growing their business.”

Dr Carmela Bosangit Senior Lecturer in Marketing

The second stage of the project saw the team investigate the other side of the relationship, as they conducted a series of focus groups among consumers, exploring perceptions towards buying and renting pre-owned goods.

Drawing upon some consumer responses shared in the groups, Dr Koenig-Lewis said: “Buying pre-owned goods has indeed become more acceptable for consumers, not only for its economic and ecological value but for hard-to-find, luxurious and more durable items.

“However, renting, which is a more sustainable way of consuming, is rarely considered due to lack of knowledge, perceived inconvenience, unfamiliarity with the system, safety and contamination concerns, and the possible consequences if an item is damaged or lost.”

Dr Nicole Koenig-Lewis Reader in Marketing

Online surveys and experiments are lined up for stage three of the project. The research team will use the data generated from these tools to examine unconscious and conscious attitudes toward pre-used goods and evaluate whether a stigma still remains and drives purchase decisions.

Find out more about the project at the Cardiff Festival of Social Science on 6 November 2019 at Little Man Coffee Co. from 6-8pm.

The event will bring together the public, business owners and researchers to share their experiences and vision for the future of the sharing economy.

Dr Bosangit and Dr Koenig-Lewis will share their latest research findings and, start-up companies who were motivated to build their businesses to address the issues of overconsumption and excessive waste will share their stories.

Find out more and register to attend now.

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the Festival of Social Science runs from 2-9 November 2019 with over 450 events held across the UK. Events will cover a wide range of topics - AI, mental health, sexuality, parenting, weather, gender, ageing, love, death, economics and education, to name but a few.

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