Zipcar report shows Britain continues to embrace a "pay-as-you-live" lifestyle – using hundreds of pounds in savings to help offset rising food and energy bills

Nov 21, 2013

Following years of austerity and recession, exclusive research by Zipcar UK – the country’s leading pay-as-you-drive car club – has highlighted how cash savvy Britons could pocket £12.4bn in savings by embracing the "pay-as-you-live" economy and shunning traditional ownership of good and services.

“We’re talking about a new generation of ‘smart’ consumers. With savings on a car alone of hundreds of pounds per month, Zipcar members are proof that the ‘pay-as-you-live’ approach can really pay off.”

The second annual Zipcar report, "Pay-As-You-Live 2013 – How the UK Sharing Economy Puts Money in Your Pocket", reveals that nearly half of the population (47%) now rents and/or shares goods and services, generating an average saving of £531.10 per person – with the money commonly put aside to help offset food and energy bills. Car usage tops the pay-as-you-live ‘league table’ – with new models of car sharing (as well as traditional car rental) providing a convenient, flexible and cost-effective alternative to car ownership.

The online research, commissioned by Zipcar UK and published in conjunction with YouGov, surveyed more than 2,000 UK adults on their renting and sharing habits. It shows that mainstream Britons, including families, are embracing the mindset of the shared/rental model.

Key drivers for a "pay-as-you-live" lifestyle

With time and money at a premium, the most popular reasons for using the pay-as-you-live economy are convenience; ability to save money; increased flexibility to upgrade models/ change product styles; and to gain access to luxury goods.

This combination of convenience, simplicity and flexibility – coupled with cost savings – has seen UK consumers enthusiastically embrace the pay-as-you-live lifestyle.

‘Pay-as-you-live’ participants are also looking at other means of saving money as well - most commonly focusing on ways to offset spiralling food and energy bills, doing DIY jobs and selling unused items online.

The report also emphasised how consumers are becoming more financially responsible, with two thirds now taking more time before making big financial decisions, compared to before the recession.

"The ‘Pay-As-You-Live’ report highlights the growing importance of the shared hire model, as an increasingly popular – and important – part of the economy," observed Mark Walker, General Manager, Zipcar UK. "It’s often more convenient and more flexible to hire, lend or share, and doesn’t mean compromising your lifestyle choices, as you can now get 24/7 access to the latest goods and services you need. Today’s technology has made the ancient act of sharing simple and relevant, to our contemporary fast-paced lifestyles."

"Hiring instead of buying can save money, and with cars, this means you'll never have to worry about depreciation, costly repairs or getting through an MOT", said consumer expert Sue Hayward. "In the current economic climate, people need ways to save that offer value for money and alternatives to ownership can offer flexibility, freedom and choice. Hiring something you may only need occasionally, like a car, can make more financial sense than buying outright."

What’s for hire – and where the money goes

Cars emerged as the most popular item for a rental or shared ownership model – followed by other items such as holiday homes, DIY equipment and live-streaming music & videos.

"We’re talking about a new generation of ‘smart’ consumers," commented Mark Walker. "Today, with even more goods and services that can be consumed ‘on demand’, or shared, consumers are showing that saving money and being efficient isn’t just a fad. With savings on a car alone of hundreds of pounds per month, Zipcar members are proof that the ‘pay-as-you-live’ approach can really pay off."

With just under half (45%) of the capital’s inhabitants renting, hiring and/or sharing, Londoners show themselves to be savvy users of the sharing economy. In fact, they earn a national high of £549 per person from renting out or sharing their own items, such as additional storage space or an extra room.

The battle of the sexes

Not only are men more likely than women to take up a pay-as-you-live lifestyle, they’re also more likely to both save and make money by doing so. Men are also more likely to be a slave to the latest trends – they are twice as likely to take advantage of a flexible rental model in order to upgrade/change the style of an item such as a mobile phone.

When it comes to savvy ways to save money, the report also identified different money saving patterns between the sexes. While men are more likely to save by renting cars and DIY equipment, women more commonly look at saving money on holidays by renting homes instead of hotels, using comparison services or special offers to help cut food and energy bills, buying and selling second hand clothes and selling goods to try to declutter their lives and homes.

Savvy families

The report revealed how cost conscious families are the UK’s savviest pay-as-you-live participants. Not only are they more likely to both save and earn money this way than other groups, but over the next 12 months they plan to increase their involvement in the sharing economy more than a number of other demographics.

"The pay-as-you-live economy is a viable economic model for families coping with the everyday pressures on their domestic budgets," said Mark Walker. "Not only is it convenient and flexible, but it enables families to save money on essentials like transport, while also freeing up cash to help offset food and energy bills."

Key findings of the Zipcar UK "Pay-As-You-Live 2013 – How the UK Sharing Economy Puts Money in Your Pocket" report:

(1) Of the 2,068 people questioned by YouGov, the mean of those who have saved via renting/sharing was £531.10. Extrapolated to the UK adult population of approx 49.7m, the collective national savings figure is £12.4bn

(2) Some of the most popular items to rent/share are cars (51%), holiday homes (36%) and DIY equipment (29%)

(3) The pay-as-you-live economy’s biggest attractions are convenience (47%); ability to save money (39%); flexibility to enable users to upgrade/change styles (10%); to gain access to luxury goods (9%)

(4) To save money, people most commonly focus on ways to cut or offset food (55%) and energy (50%) bills; doing DIY (41%); selling unused items online (38%); buying/selling second hand goods(24%)

(5) ‘Battle of the Sexes’:

  • More men than women use the pay-as-you-live economy (51% vs. 44%)

  • Men are more likely to both save money (27% vs. 23%) and make money (7% vs. 5%)

  • Men are more likely to upgrade or change the style of a rented/shared item (13% vs. 7%)

  • When looking at smarter ways to save money:
    - Men are more likely to rent/share cars (54% vs. 47%), DIY equipment (30% vs. 27%) and look at changing their personal finance strategy (9% vs. 7%)

    - More women hire holiday homes than men (39% vs. 32%), look at ways to cut/offset food (60% vs. 49%) and energy (51% vs. 48%) bills, buy & sell second hand items (31% vs. 15%) and sell goods over the Internet (42% vs. 32%)

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