‘Asset-light generation’ ditch physical books, DVDs and CDs

According to one venture capitalist, many young people under the age of 25 are in the process of getting rid of their physical collections of books, CDs and Dvds, and instead, embracing the new technology that allows them to access movies, television programmes, the latest best sellers and music.

The growing popularity and success of websites such as Netflix, Lovefilm, and iTunes and the increasingly sophisticated new technology which includes tablets, e-readers and smart-phones, now mean that people no longer have to physically own a book, piece of music or a film, they can rent, download or browse instead.

Stack of books in a book shop been ignore as a result of asset-light generation trends

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Oliver Smith has dubbed this generation the ‘asset-light generation’, and suggests that the description could refer to many typical university graduates.

Take Nicholas Matthew, 23, he has a wide collection of music, films and TV programmes but you won’t find his uni digs cluttered up with boxes or overcrowded bookshelves, he doesn’t even own a television he told Smith: “Just an iPhone and a laptop, I haven’t even bought a CD or DVD for over five years, they have all been replaced by iPlayer and Spotify.”

And American venture capitalist, Mary Meeker, and described this new generation as ones who do tend not to own what they watch, listen to or read, but rather, instantly access what they want at that time and then move on.

Meeker thinks that one reason for this change from ownership to accessing is the easy way people can rent a movie, download a book or listen to a piece of music.

She says: “It’s easier for people to get what they want, when they want it by buying access to a vast range of goods or services – such as all the movies on Netflix – rather than buying to own a particular object or title.”

And it does mean that you can travel light, which is surely a bonus for university students, backpackers and travelers worldwide. Christopher Davies, a 25-year-old graduate tells the Independent: “What I had, I left at university, I lugged my collection of CDs and DVDs all the way there with me, but once I finished I didn’t want to lug them back.

When I went to university, I went from a small village with a poor internet connection, to a capital city with a fibre-optic connection, I didn’t need all those discs anymore.” He replaced his collection with subscription services such as Spotify and LoveFilm.

But isn’t there something quite satisfying about owning a huge film or music collection? Or displaying your favourite book titles in your living room? David Mattin, lead strategist at trendwatching.com thinks that the trend towards access from ownership is inevitable: “We’re noticing a trend towards being ownerless, a move from ownership to access consumption.

I don’t think ownership will fade entirely, but our relationship with the products will change. Over the next few years we will see the mainstreaming of this ownerless mindset.”

However, this does not mean the end of physical collections, as there will always be some people who want to see, touch and own their cultural belongings, as it represents who they are to the outside world. Mattin however disagrees: “Traditionalists who say if you don’t own something, you don’t appreciate it.

I don’t think it is the case… they just have a different relationship [with their goods],” and added: “Accumulating the right record collection, that was how you gained status. Now status built by sharing, making playlists, being an editor and curator.”

This new asset-light generation could point the way to a more sharing economy, where what we are is not defined by what we actually physically own, or by how much we accumulate, but by who is a respected member of an online community, who has good taste and who’s opinion you prefer.

And as our university graduate Nicholas Matthew said: “It can’t come soon enough. If anything I feel more in control now, I get to choose what artists I support through playing, ‘liking’ and sharing.”

Source: The Independent

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