The psychology of ownership

What’s mine is mine: unpicking the psychological reasons people like to own things is the title of a highly recommended article by Claire Murphy of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Adapting to product as a service or sharing models in a circular economy could prove difficult for individuals who derive a feeling of safety and identity from ownership. How can insight into these motivations help businesses adapt their relationships with users?

She explores all the reasons why people like to own things and then asks what does this all mean for brands aiming to evolve their users into a more fluid, less ownership-dependent model of accessing products, and how to motivate individuals to dream of happiness beyond ownership.

Building on two examples (a French car sharing company and a UK clothing rental company), she concludes that the move towards a circular economy means that marketers need to consider the psychological needs of their users in a different way to classic buyer research, and then feed this knowledge back into the business model design process.