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Generation rent: Ikea to trial furniture subscriptions

‘Generation Rent’ has a new ally in the form of homeware retailer Ikea. The flat pack empire that has spent decades selling us furniture and homewares is looking at testing a concept in Switzerland to hire out furniture as well.

The company said it’s seeking ways for shoppers to “buy, care for and pass on products,” which is part of a more sustainable approach that has also seen it launching programmes to allow customers to take back old items they want to replace so they can be donated to charity.

The news broke in the FT, which said that the company is looking at the hire strategy for kitchens and office chairs, among other items.

Torbjorn Loof, CEO of the Inter Ikea holding company (which control the Ikea brand rights) told the newspaper that “we will work together with partners so you can actually lease your furniture. When that leasing period is over, you hand it back and might lease something else.”

A company spokesperson also said the firm wants to encourage “people to play an active role in making the circular economy a reality, which we can support by developing new ways for people to buy, care for, and pass on products. And instead of throwing those away, we refurbish them a little and we could sell them, prolonging the lifecycle of the product.”

It’s believed to be the start of a new way of thinking at the company that’s more in tune with the subscription-focused younger consumers it needs to target.

So what happens next? Well, not a lot just yet. The thinking is still at an early stage and so the exact approach hasn’t yet been worked out. But it’s still significant – anything Ikea does is set to make an impact so watch this space for more news.

For further design solutions for Generation Rent, read up on WGSN Insight’s Millennials: Future Home 2020 report.

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