Breitling Select is a new membership service that allows customers to rent up to three Breitling watches a year.
You can rent a house, you can rent a car, and now you can rent your favorite luxury watches.
Market research shows that Millennials and Gen Z aren’t as interested in ownership as their previous counterparts, but according to a report by the New York Times, they’re happy to rent just about anything, and the luxury watch market is the latest industry to tap into rental potential.
Market research firm Bain & Company told the NYTimes that “rentals could account for 10 percent of luxury brand revenues by 2030.”
“The willingness of the younger generation to embrace renting and secondhand is very high,” Bain & Company partner Claudia D’Arpizio is quoted in the piece. “The shift from owning to having an experience is super strong.”
Breitling was one of the first timepiece companies to enter this new space, introducing a 12-month rental subscription service called Breitling Select. Membership costs a one-time fee of $450 and $129 a month after that. Subscribers can rent three watches a year, one at a time. At the moment, this subscription service is only available in the United States, but Breitling plans to expand the service to Europe very soon.
Rental services definitely pose challenges for watch brands and their marketing strategies. To many, luxury watches are a lifetime investment and have historically been seen as exclusive accessories. With this new system comes a change in customer mindset, but D’Arpizio believes this move could be a huge success for the greater consumer attitude towards luxury.
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According to D’Arpizio, a lot of today’s consumers don’t want to show off their bank accounts, but would rather show off their personality and how they live. British watch brand Fears aced the personality play through its rental service, Be Fearless. The service allows anyone in the UK with an upcoming job interview to rent their watches free for a week.
Owner Nicholas Bowman-Scargill says that, for Fears, it wasn't about the return on investment. It was about doing the right thing, and he sees the Be Fearless rental campaign as the start of a growing business opportunity.
Some question whether a rental service would cannibalize the sale of new watches, but D’Arpizio believes it can in fact introduce otherwise skeptical buyers to the greater watch market.
“This is a huge opportunity to create the new growth engine for the new generation,” she says. “You can attract them through this market and grow them in your brand and then upgrade them.”
Learn more about the burgeoning luxury watch rental market via the New York Times.