Renting is a widely used mode of gaining access to goods, yet research on how consumers decide whether to buy or rent a good is still limited, leaving unclear whether a buy-or-rent choice is driven by situational (i.e., context-related) or dispositional (i.e., personality-related) factors. This research jointly addresses the role of situational and dispositional factors on the rent-or-buy decision, to shed light on what actually drives consumers’ preference for one or the other acquisition mode. Results of an experimental study, conducted using a real-life choice situation involving a leading automotive brand, show that overall consumers strongly prefer buying to renting, regardless of the quality of the alternatives they are evaluating. This evidence challenges the commonly held idea that through rental consumers can enjoy superior-quality goods that they could otherwise not afford. Furthermore, results show that specific situational (time horizon) and dispositional (importance of possession, locus of control, convenience orientation) factors may affect individuals’ intention to buy or rent. Theoretical and managerial implications are also discussed.
Keywords: Acquisition mode, time horizon, possession importance, convenience orientation, locus of control.