Followed by the disrupting changes in 2020, the brands have unique opportunity to reinvent the way we consume and to shift towards the digital and circular economy.
In this context, Lizee and mabonneamie have decided to unite their strengths and expertise to propose a turnkey rental solution specialized for luxury and premium brands. Two experts, Anna Balez, co-founder of Lizee and Axelle Bonamy, founder of mabonneamie, discussed their journeys and experience in rental market.
Anna : It’s been 10 years since you launched your innovative luxury rental offer. What made you want to enter this new market?
Axelle : As often happens, it was a real-life experience! I had a wedding to attend and I wanted to wear a luxury dress but, except for a few very limited 2nd hand choices out there, my only option was to buy it new. By asking the women around me I realized that 70% of them would not want to reuse a dress purchased for a specific event. Therefore, I wanted to offer these women a new service: to be able to wear a luxury dress, paying only a fraction of its retail price and to be able to change it every time.
Axelle : What lessons have you learned from your experience as the founder of one of the first brand renting baby and pregnant women's clothing?
Anna : Creating from scratch a rental offer for everyday clothes was a real challenge seven years ago! I learned a lot about what "non possession"would imply for Europeans in the early 2010's. I am happy to see that today it is changing in a systemic way. Possession is a less present value for the younger generations, with the Gen Y being the leader of this movement. For me, the following generations will be demanding even more rental offers. They are already ready for it.
Anna : Why do you think that “non-possessing” luxury is a luxury?
Axelle : Luxury is an experience with an emotion. Indeed, luxury lies as much in the exclusivity of a product as in the excellence of the service. It is about getting personalized service, wearing a designer dress for an evening or a luxury bag for a few days, having it delivered, not having constraints of storage or maintenance, and then starting it all over again. That is the true luxury.
“Luxury lies as much in the exclusivity of a product as in the excellence of the service.”
Axelle : Why logistics play an important role in renting?
Anna : Today, logistics is mainly meant to send products. What becomes to the product after, it is no longer the business of the brand that produced it. Implementing a whole logistics system for picking the product for rental and handling the returns is still a blockage for major brands today. Everything that leaves the warehouse will come back one day and will have to be refurbished. Warehouses and IT systems today are not made for that. That's our value proposition at Lizee!
Anna : What is the most frequent feedback from your customers today? And the most memorable?
Axelle : The feedback from customers is excellent! Indeed, wearing a luxury product for an evening makes the experience even more special. They feel both valued and freed from the constraints related to the purchase (product maintenance in particular).
The most memorable? A client whose dress was noticed by Leonardo di Caprio at the Cannes Film Festival and didn't want to take it off anymore ;)
Axelle : In your opinion, why do luxury brands that want to integrate the circular economy have to propose a rental offer rather than a second-hand offer?
Anna : Rental has the potential to turn products a large number of times over a very short period of time. One of the great advantages is also that each product is uniquely identified and therefore the brand will never lose track of it. The economic and environmental profitability is realized faster than with a second-hand offer. Nevertheless, I think that the 2 offers are complementary: renting goes hand in hand with second-hand sales, test and buy offers or offers with short rental periods for example.
Anna : What was your biggest difficulty in setting up the luxury rental business 10 years ago?
Axelle : Product sourcing. Ten years ago, luxury brands wanted to control their distribution circuit and were reluctant to sell online whereas today they all have their own e-shop. In 2020 brands understood that renting, like secondhand, was a new channel to interact with their existing customers and reach new targets audiences.
“Everything that leaves the warehouse will come back one day and will have to be refurbished. Warehouses and IT systems today are not made for that.”
Axelle : How do you see the rental market in 5 to 10 years?
Anna : I see a more structured market, with more standardized offers. Consumers will be sensitive to the experience that brands and marketplaces offering rental will provide them. Also, at the operational level, I think that data processing between the different operators (OMS, WMS, transporters) will be easier and more fluid. The brands that will launch a rental offer will only have to focus on offering the most interesting customer experience as possible!
Anna : What advice would you give to large luxury houses interested to start renting?
Axelle : You have to see renting as a channel of acquisition and loyalty. I can't count the number of clients who have (re)discovered a brand thanks to rental! The key is the service: personalized advice, logistics, insurance, after-sales service, etc. Rental is based on a chain of services that make it an easy, accessible and therefore repeatable experience!
Axelle : What would you like to rent that you can't find on the market today?
Anna : Decoration for my apartment! I'm not the best at matching colors for example and I would like to change the decoration of my apartment according to the seasons. A rental offer would allow me to have an offer that accompanies my choices, at a lower cost!
Anna : What are your plans for "the next world"?
Axelle : Working with brands to expand the rental offer and design more sustainable products thanks to the data collected. Propose more and more services and advice so that women can still treat themselves but consume responsibly.