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The accessor effect: How (and for whom) renters’ lack of perceived brand commitment dilutes brand image

Aaron Barnes Tiffanny Barnett White
Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science. March 8, 2024

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To compete against disruptive startups such as Rent the Runway and Zipcar, many established brands have shifted from traditional ownership business models to access business models by providing short-term rentals of existing goods. Despite their growing popularity, surprisingly little is known about how access offers affect consumer responses. The current research addresses this gap and reveals unintended consequences of introducing branded access offers. Across four experiments, the authors find that consumers whose brand attachment reflects their identity as a member of a group (e.g., those with a high group-brand connection) think that access versus traditional (ownership-based) offers more negatively impact parent brand image. This accessor effect occurs because consumers with high group-brand connections are differentially sensitive to accessors’ perceived lack of brand commitment. Consistent with our perceived commitment account, the effect can be mitigated when access offer rental periods are longer (vs. shorter).