Report • 04.04.2022

Renting instead of buying: A sustainable consumption system on the rise?

Highlights from a webtalk about subscription services and circular economy at Decathlon

Companies often find themselves in a balancing act: they have to prioritize between long-term and short-term goals. How much do we invest in sustainable business models and environmental and climate protection? Many entrepreneurs are faced with these decisions.

Sustainability efforts may initially cost more. But as it gradually turns out, good investments can pay off, because consumers are increasingly basing their choice of brand or retailer on how sustainable they perceive their actions to be. And that's not all: the current energy crisis is just one example of how sustainable models can also be more economical, as they avoid fatal cost explosions in the long term.

There are numerous approaches to driving sustainability in business operations: Responsible production, energy-saving measures and renewable energies, as well as waste avoidance are just a few examples.

And another, which is on everyone's lips in the textile industry, for example, is called the circular economy.

A man at a webtalk, a street and mountains as a virtual background...
Yann Carré, Leader Rent at Decathlon
Source: Screenshot Webtalk " Sustainability and Subscription Business: A Perfect Match?"; Copyright: Zuora

Less production, more use: circular economy

Yann Carré, Leader Rent at Decathlon, and Frédéric Demierre, Senior Vice President Growth & Strategy at Digitall, talked about the circular economy and the subscription model at Decathlon in a webtalk on March 17, 2022. (Zuora provides software that allows companies to manage their subscription-based services. Digitall offers cloud and software solutions for data management, among other things).

Yann Carré begins with an appeal to entrepreneurs' sense of responsibility: “When you are producing and designing products, at the beginning of the chain you are taking something from the earth, and at the end of the chain you are producing waste materials. We have an impact on the planet and we have the responsibility […] to reduce our impact.”

Decathlon wanted to reduce its impact, but without reducing the value of the products for everyone involved. Their solution was the circular economy. Carré said, he sees his job now as defining the vision and strategy for rental services for Decathlon, which will be part of the circular economy that the sporting goods retailer wants to implement.

For Decathlon, circular economy means three things, Carré said:

  1. Repairing goods
  2. Proposing second life
  3. Promoting use of goods with a transactional base which is basically renting

To achieve this goal as quickly as possible, Decathlon is taking steps to ensure that there are fewer items and that they are used more. To achieve this, the company is working on the following steps: 

  • Eco-designing products
  • Changing the supply chain
  • Enlarging life-time duration of products
  • Repairing and recycling products
A man at a webtalk, neutral virtual background with Digitall company logo...
Frédéric Demierre, Senior Vice President Growth & Strategy bei Digitall
Source: Screenshot Webtalk "Sustainability and Subscription Business: A Perfect Match?"; copyright: Zuora

Nothing less than a paradigm shift for consumers

Frédéric Demierre follows up on this sense of responsibility by asking the question: “What kind of planet are we going leave behind while continuing to grow our businesses?” His mission is therefore to convince companies to introduce more sustainable processes by digitizing sales and marketing activities.

Even if consumer awareness is already on the rise, companies need to drive a paradigm shift in consumption, Demierre says. There is already a fundamental shift in the relationship between people and products, he encourages: “We are seeing the end of ownership and the increase of usage.”

The challenge: to develop a new and profitable business model that responds to a consumer mindset driven by environmental awareness and mindfulness.

Neither the circular economy nor the subscription model are new inventions, Demierre explains, but as a response to climate change efforts, they are innovative and transformative.

Understanding customer journeys and adapting production

A subscription service brings not only challenges, but also advantages for companies: Through a subscription service, providers learn more about who uses their products and when and how they are used. The subscription model therefore provides more data about consumer demand and helps companies better understand the customer journey. It also allows companies to forecast demand and optimize supply chains accordingly.

Demierre cautions that one prerequisite for the circular economy is, of course: The product must be designed for reuse. There has to be a shift in the production process from a product-centric to a customer-centric perspective to create a positive user experience for customers and build a trusting relationship with them.

According to Demierre, this model also has advantages for customers: they have constant and automatic access to product innovations and improved quality.

Yann Carré qualifies: He does not expect ownership to disappear completely in the foreseeable future. However, he notes that ownership in industries changes when those industries revolutionize the user experience, as streaming services have done.

Decathlon, he explains, is working on a mix of ownership and rental, offering customers a choice. "We want to make consumers aware of what the choice of 'sports as a service instead of sports as property' means to them."

Author: Julia Pott

related articles:

popular articles:

Thumbnail-Photo: Trends for Mothers Day and Fathers Day: How retailers can score...
10.04.2024   #sustainability #marketing

Trends for Mother's Day and Father's Day: How retailers can score

How to make the holidays a success for your business with creative gift ideas for mom and dad

Mother's Day and Father's Day are just around the corner – two special occasions to shower our parents with thanks and appreciation. Traditionally, we use these days ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Leaving a good impression on the customer
28.02.2024   #retail #Tech in Retail

Leaving a good impression on the customer

Interview with Extenda Retail

For retailers, the checkout is the most important part of the customer journey. Because this is where customers decide whether they come back or go to the competition next time. Mohit Paul, CCO of Extenda Retail, explains what a seamless and ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Simple integration of POS-systems
28.02.2024   #retail #Tech in Retail

Simple integration of POS-systems

Interview with Star Micronics

Receipt, label and kiosk printing, POS systems for tablets and cloud-based – Star Micronics Europe Ltd. offers flexible and innovative POS solutions for the retail and hospitality sectors. ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Cash management made easy?
28.02.2024   #retail #Tech in Retail

Cash management made easy?

Interview with APG

Cash is the lifeblood of retailing and has to be managed. The payment solutions company APG shows a portfolio of possibilities – 'seamless' is a key priority here. ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Accurate and frictionless user experience
27.02.2024   #retail #Tech in Retail

Accurate and frictionless user experience

Interview with Toshiba

For Toshiba, the focus is on the customers. To make their shopping experience as pleasant and smooth as possible, the company is driving forward the development of computer vision, machine learning and AI. ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Precise pricing and well-stocked shelves
29.02.2024   #retail #digitization

Precise pricing and well-stocked shelves

Interview with Hanshow Technology

Have you heard of green digitalization and how important it has become? Hanshow gives you an insight into the possibilities of modern ESL innovations – colorful and sustainable. At EuroCIS, the company explains the benefits for retailers. ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Communication at the POS in focus at Meto
15.05.2024   #labels #price labelling

Communication at the POS in focus at Meto

Price labellers, labels, ESL fasteners and sales promotion solutions: Meto International GmbH offers everything for ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Rethinking advertising communication?
27.02.2024   #retail #Tech in Retail

Rethinking advertising communication?

Interview with Online Software

With its PRESTIGE AI Copilot software, the company is bringing artificial intelligence directly into brick-and-mortar retail. But how does the smart assistant help to make optimum use of in-store screens and electronic shelf labels? ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Sustainable printers for mindful consumers
28.02.2024   #retail #Tech in Retail

Sustainable printers for mindful consumers

Interview with Bixolon

Bixolon has noticed a change in consumer behavior and is responding accordingly. Sustainability is more important than ever before. As a result, the company has developed new POS printers and printing processes. ...

Thumbnail-Photo: “REWE voll pflanzlich” – The store concept of the future?...
25.04.2024   #brick and mortar retail #sustainability

“REWE voll pflanzlich” – The store concept of the future?

German supermarket chain experiments with first vegan store

Have you heard about REWE's (pronounced ‘ray vuh’) latest project? Two weeks ago, the food giant opened its first ...


Extenda Retail Ab
Extenda Retail Ab
Gustav III:s Boulevard 50A
169 73 Solna
Meto International GmbH
Meto International GmbH
Ersheimer Straße 69
69434 Hirschhorn