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  • Writer's pictureJosh Rudder

Sell Them on Renting

Have you ever purchased a product that you ended up not using? Most of us think our product purchases are useful but they end up gathering dust in the corner. Dustin’s purchase was a guitar that he never played. Westin’s purchase was a set of microphones that were never used.

The present issue with the guitar and the microphone set was that both required a necessary skill before they could enjoy the experience of having their products. Many of us put off learning these new skills, lose motivation, and have an overall poor consumer experience.

The question posed focuses on these skill-based products and whether we should rent or own them. What allows a consumer to have a better positive experience? Does this also simultaneously improve a company’s bottom line? We assume that going through the buyer’s journey and owning the product would be enough to help us commit long-term to these products. But after conducting numerous surveys we found that the opposite is true, renting skill-based products gives us much needed

confidence booster, which also improves company sales over the long run.

Our next step was to manufacture a study. Ours was centered around the Mirror Cube, a shape modification of the standard 3x3x3 Rubik’s Cube. After purchasing numerous Mirror Cubes, we recruited a student population and split them into two groups. The first group was told “this is your cube to rent”, while the second group was told “this is your cube to buy”. After measuring each group’s confidence levels, we found that the renters had more confidence.

The best part of psychological research is that you can measure different variables and then run statistical tests to see if an additional measure explains the affect, essentially explaining what is going on in the experiment. After several tests and serious digging, we found that the renters had more confidence due to social comparison. Our example centers on Westin’s outstanding juggling skills. In a hypothetical situation Westin was asked about how well he could juggle while surrounded by an ordinary crowd. He responded: ”I am pretty decent”. But if the scenario is changed and Westin is put in a room with professional jugglers and then asked about his juggling skills his response would be negatively impacted. All the sudden Westin is not good at all! Our self-perceived skill levels are based on whoever we first think of, and the same phenomenon occurs when we own products. Once we own a product, we start comparing our abilities with other product owners and are demotivated by social comparison. Our confidence levels are seriously hurt when this connection occurs.

After analyzing the research, renting was found to impact the actual likelihood that you will learn to use any skill-based products.

Renters go through a different mental process. When you rent you compare yourself to other renters, and everyone seems to think the same: all renters stink. We think compared to these renters; I am decent. We then see that renters are more likely to upgrade their products and continuously buy new accessories. They are much more active than the purchasers. This is contrary to a generally accepted principle that we commit ourselves to a product by buying a skill-based product.

In summary, renting is the way to go. After analyzing the research, renting was found to impact the actual likelihood that you will learn to use any skill-based products. Confidence must be built before someone can enjoy using a skill-based product. The business application of this principle is to boost their customer’s confidence levels while the importance this study holds is to attempt to reach consumers and ask them to rent or utilize non-purchase options to help consumers avoid comparisons with product owners.

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