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Can technology reduce consumption? Or, why I'll never buy another holiday movie

Not long ago, you might have felt compelled to buy music on a CD because you didn't know when you would hear your favorite song again.  Though your song was playing on the radio four times an hour, you knew that when the next big song came along, yours might disappear for a while.  Better to have it - physically, in your possession - so you could listen to it whenever you wanted.  The same was true for movies, TV shows, and the like. Now with Last.FM, Pandora, and a host of other music sites, movies on demand, Netflix's Watch Instantly service, and YouTube, not to mention various downloading options, your favorite song or show is instantly accessible.

That's why when I unpacked our holiday decorations this week and opened up the holiday movie box, I thought - I'll never buy another one of these again.  I've been hauling around VHS tapes and deluxe-edition DVD sets for years.  It's just not necessary anymore.

What's interesting to me is that this isn't just happening in media.  It looks different in other areas, but it's arguably part of the same trend.  It's now possible to rent a luxury handbag, borrow a car or a bike, or tend a plot in a community garden.  More businesses are moving from a goods-producing model to a services-providing model.

People are weighing the long-term costs of ownership versus the benefits they receive and reconsidering outright purchase.  Where there were once "have to have" products, more people are thinking about renting, sharing, or borrowing.

If you currently sell goods, how might this trend impact your business - or what opportunity can you find in it?

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