Disrupting retail consumerism: Australia’s $8b sharing economy
Published 1 February 2022
When Plato stated necessity is the mother of invention, he wasn’t talking about the endless production of retail consumerism. He was demonstrating how the primary driving force for invention is need. So what happens when need is replaced by want? We end up in a world with stuff. And unfortunately, a lot of it is either useless or wasted.
While many a neo-liberal might perk up with the suggestion that increased consumption is the basis for a healthy economy, we risk impacting other sectors of the world and areas where consumption is the difference between life and death.
Market forces will forever be driven by supply and demand. However, the impact that this can bring to a population that overconsumes and demands evermore is materialistic compared to its effect on planet earth.
For us here at Releaseit, we’re guided by a singular idea: acquiring more stuff at the expense of Mother Earth isn’t just old fashioned – it’s out of fashion. Moreover, owning ‘things’ that don’t get used isn’t just wasteful. It’s harmful. And that goes for big businesses too.
With all of us owning so much stuff, it's about time we actually put our belongings to work. Stick with us on our sustainable journey through Australia’s ~$8 billion sharing economy, be a part of the future. Become the ‘thoughtful’ consumer and you might even earn a bit of cash for your efforts too.
What is retail consumerism?
Consumerism is the idea that increasing the consumption of goods and services is a good thing. Retail consumerism is no different. Put simply, when consumer spending goes down, economic performance will follow, and vice versa.
However, when goods and services are so easily procured, what happens when consumers are satisfied with what they have? You create new demand. Or, as 19th-century economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen coined it, conspicuous consumption, where consumers purchase, own, and use products not for their direct-use value but as a way of signalling social and economic status. Clout chasers.
Then there’s the issue of reckless spending. Half-price this, 20% off that, pay in four instalments because you can’t afford to buy it in the first place. We’re living in a society where you can buy a t-shirt for less than a cup of coffee, and we think that’s messed up!
This combination of consumerism and conspicuous consumption has led us to market issues like planned obsolescence, fast fashion, plastic packaging and destructive creations. And we’re here to make a difference.
Discretionary retailing and the ‘thoughtful’ consumer?
According to our fearless leader, Stephen Kulmar, “the future of all discretionary retailing will include an increasing focus on the circular economy.” Living “excessively with a disposable mentality” is not the future he wants to live in. Instead, he’s merging “existing rental businesses with peer to peer rental,” with a focus “on the future ‘thoughtful’ consumer.”
But what the hell is discretionary retailing, and what makes a consumer ‘thoughtful’? Discretionary retailing can be defined by what it is not, products and services that are not as urgently needed, that consumers aren’t forced to buy regularly, whose purchase can be delayed if required.
Meanwhile, thoughtful consumers consider their shopping and spending habits and how they impact the environment. Think cage-free eggs, organic food labels, and certified-cruelty free cosmetics. Consumers want to know how their purchases impact the world around them. How are they made, where they come from, who makes them, and how their workers are treated.
The thoughtful consumer understands discretionary retail, seeking out products and services without negatively impacting the world.
The Rental Economy and Asset Sharing
During an economic downturn, consumers may be unwilling to pay steep prices for the goods they want. Instead, many will turn to the rental economy. You see this when individuals first move out of home, hire a car on holiday or pay to borrow a carpet cleaner from your local hardware store.
On the other hand, the sharing economy differs ever so slightly. Global giants like Airbnb and Uber dominate the sharing economy, allowing individuals to earn extra cash from renting out a room in their house or ride-sharing. Rather than letting assets like a house or a car sit unused, they serve a new purpose and provide a service to those in need while earning the owner some extra income.
Releaseit goes one step further with a whole new category known as asset sharing. Focusing instead on the consumer, there is a new generation of more thoughtful and considered shoppers who want to buy in a more socially responsible way. Hoping to reduce rampant consumerism, our platform encourages consumers to re-use, rather than own, by renting from established rental businesses and peers.
Angel Investors Hugo Dudley-Smith describes the concept of Releaseit best in that it allows “individuals to release value from their idle possessions, rental businesses to engage with a broader community of customers, and consumers to rent a product that they don’t need to buy.”
Dubbed the eBay of rentals, 30 established rental companies are already involved, including Glam Corner, Radio Rentals, Jucy, Carly, GlamHub, Anyboats and Luxury Properties.
Consumers can also rent out items they already own to earn some extra cash or rent goods such as power tools, kayaks, electronics and furniture on a short-term basis from other people nearby.
Why use Releaseit?
- Environment-friendly – reusing means wasting less.
- Wallet-bulging – earn dollarydoos from the stuff you already own.
- Have FUN – access the latest and greatest brands for a fraction of the cost of ownership.
But most of all, Releaseit has all the potential to build a robust community around the rental economy. Providing a valuable catalyst for connection and collaboration around asset sharing, it’s a paradigm shift for consumerism as we know it.
Disrupting retail consumerism on behalf of the planet is all about rejecting old consumerist values which prioritise consuming more at the expense of the environment. The reality is we already have enough stuff as it is, and if consumption continues at the rate it's going, the impacts on the environment will be detrimental.
So, Releaseit is calling out for a radical shift in these norms by replacing the old linear economy with a circular one, where we all buy less and borrow more. By utilising Releaseit and choosing to rent goods over buying, you are helping to contribute to this circular economy by reusing what is already available, reducing waste and overconsumption.
Unlock a world of experiences - from skiing to Djing - rent with Releaseit.