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Clothing rental industry analysis: Is rental the future of fashion?

The desire for the latest trends, a lack of affordable designer clothing, and a change in consumer behaviour to buy more sustainably has led to a new model within the fashion industry: clothing rental platforms. Projected to reach a value of more than $2 billion by 2025,  the global clothing rental industry is changing fashion consumption as we know it.

Fashion brands are using Relative Insight to conduct a thorough analysis of the competitive landscape, analysing review data to understand how they stack up against key competitors. Relative Insight’s comparative text analytics platform compares two or more qualitative data sets, pinpointing the linguistic features that are more prevalent in each, revealing key competitor and audience insights.

For this clothing rental industry analysis, we gathered thousands of customer reviews for Rent the Runway, By Rotation and Tulerie and uploaded them to Relative Insight. Next, we compared the reviews of each brand against their other two competitors. This unique form of analysis enables brands to understand their strengths and weaknesses in comparison to their competitors, as well as revealing how a consumer base distinctly talks.

Rent the Runway

Launched in 2009, Rent the Runway ignited the clothing rental revolution, evolving from a simple question: “Wouldn’t it be so much smarter if we could rent designer items rather than purchase them?”

Our analysis revealed that Rent the Runway customers are 5.8x more likely to use the service for special occasions. Customers described the brand as the perfect place to hire outfits for weddings and high school formals, revealing that consumers associate the brand with elegance and luxury.

insight card - formal events and weddings

In comparison to By Rotation and Tulerie, customers were infinitely more likely to speak about Rent the Runway’s membership and subscription options. By establishing a membership model that encourages brand advocacy, Rent the Runway have created a unique selling point that sets themselves apart from key competitor – a model which their consumer base also respond positively to. 

insight card - membership options

However, it’s not all positive. When compared to their competitors, Rent the Runway customers were more likely to express disappointment in the brand’s services and customer support. Emotions such as discontent and dislike were detected in Rent the Runway reviews, whereas these were completely absent from competitors. Negative evaluators were used 4.5x more by Rent the Runway customers, and words such as disappointed and cancel further reflected customers’ poor experiences. Our analysis revealed that bad customer service and orders not arriving on time were key contributors to negative reviews.

By Rotation

Although By Rotation takes inspiration from other B2C and peer-to-peer rental platforms, it is the world’s first social fashion rental app. When analysing reviews of By Rotation, a key consumer insight we found was that people were 14.6x more likely to describe the platform as an innovative concept and great idea.

insight card - clothing rental industry analysis reveals By Rotation is innovative

While the entire clothing rental industry provides a solution to fashion and textiles waste, our analysis revealed that By Rotation customers were 23.5x more likely to discuss sustainability throughout their reviews. Words like sustainable and planet, along with topics such as green issues, were front and centre of this qualitative data, suggesting that the consumer base of By Rotation are using fashion rental primarily as a sustainable alternative.

insight card - sustainability

In comparison to competitors, By Rotation customers were 10x more likely to comment on the affordability of the clothing rental app, evident through words like prices and price tag. Customers commented that the platform enables people to enjoy fashion without the price tag of designer clothes, suggesting that value is an important factor for consumers.

insight card - fashion without the price tag

Furthermore, what’s interesting is that By Rotation customers are brand loyalists. The phrase highly recommend was 9.8x more likely to appear throughout their reviews. Recommendations are vital for brand perception, therefore giving customers a positive experience can only strengthen brand positioning.

Tulerie

When looking at the reviews of Tulerie, an important difference was that users describe the platform as a sharing network for women with a love of fashion who feel more like friends than strangers. Users refer to other renters and rentees as girlfriends, highlighting the friendly nature and community feel that the app promotes.

Is clothing rental the future of fashion? It seems that Tulerie customers believe so. The word future appeared 7.2x more in Tulerie reviews. Clearly, consumers are seeing rental as a strong alternative to excessive consumption that could change the face of the fashion industry as we know it.

Conducting a robust competitor analysis of the clothing rental industry enables us to understand how brands are carving out their own niche in a new, exciting market, and why customers are choosing to use different platforms. Whether they are drawn in by Rent the Runway’s membership option, the affordability and innovation of By Rotation, or the fashionable community of Tulerie, learning about competitors’ customer experience can help you understand how to attract and retain new audiences.