November 21, 2012

Vodafone’s ‘Red Hot’ phone rentals

Posted by: in Things To Watch

Vodafone’s new Red Hot plan lets U.K. customers rent rather than buy their mobile phone and trade it in annually. Participants choose among several high-end phones, pay a monthly fee (covering calls and texts, 2GB of data and insurance), then trade in the phone after a year. This ties into our trend Non-Commitment Culture (consumers are opting for choices that require a less permanent commitment and becoming more likely to rent goods, share them with friends, etc.), as well as our trend Eat, Pray, Tech (high-tech devices are becoming as integral to people as food and clothing, making the latest tech more than just a luxury or a guilty pleasure).

Vodafone even enlists “mobilologist” Florie Brizel to put Red Hot in a trends context: In a press release, she explains that “The need to ‘own’ things outright—where owning something translates to ‘stability’—has less meaning for a mobile population than for the older generation for whom ‘acquisition’ translated to ‘upward mobility’.” Meanwhile, some consumers crave the most up-to-date phones, “based on the notion that they’ll be able to demonstrate that they’re smarter, more powerful, productive, creative or even sexy.” Renting is also cheaper: Vodafone says the plan would save an owner of a 16GB iPhone 5 more than £200. —Marian Berelowitz

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