By Aimee Chanthadavong

A survey has revealed that Australians aged 18 to 24 years prefer renting, loaning and swapping over owning because it’s more affordable.
The American Express future of consumer spending survey found the change in attitude of Australia’s younger generation reflects the increasing cost of living, where according to the consumer price index, the cost of housing rose 5 per cent and automotive fuel increased 2.1 per cent in the December 2010 quarter.

As a result, Gen-Y is less likely to purchase items that have a high cost, become dated quickly, or aren’t used often.

The research found three out of four Australians in the 18 to 24 age group are ‘cost conscious’ and more than six in 10 see themselves as ‘quality driven’, only making larger purchases if they believe the item has longevity.

Rachel Stocks at American Express said the rising cost of living in Australia’s cities have forced Gen Y to find creative alternatives to experience products rather than buying them outright.

“Gen Y are hiring, swapping and sharing all kinds of products, from electronics and white goods to fashion items, to avoid making the capital expenditure on expensive items that date and depreciate quickly,” she said.

According to the American Express survey, retailers must re-evaluate their services and create more options for young consumers to engage with brands and services without necessarily purchasing for the purpose of ownership.

"One way to drive strong customer engagement is to recognise and reward the loyalty of customers.  This can be achieved through special offers, membership programs, exclusive customer-only events and generally providing opportunities for people to interact more closely with their brand," Stocks said.