Published 6 months ago.
About a 4 minute read.
Image: Anete Lusina
Younger consumers are pushing resale into mainstream retail; and it’s changing how brands, platforms and other services that support commerce support and strategize around it.
We’re experiencing a “resale revolution;” and it’s fundamentally changing the
way many of us in the US shop, according to the 2023 Reuse Report
by global ecommerce marketplace Mercari.
According to the report, the US secondhand market is expected to reach $325
billion by 2031. What’s even more striking are the ways in which resale is
slowly but surely becoming an integral part of the broader retail landscape;
according to the report, Mercari has had more than 50 million downloads and gets
350,000 new listings every day in the US alone.
“Well over half of people surveyed for the report said buying secondhand is a
lifestyle choice; and there’s a definite bias to younger consumers,” Neil
Saunders, managing director of
GlobalData (which worked with Mercari to compile
the report), told Sustainable Brands®.
From July 2022 - July 2023, the report notes almost 82 percent of US consumers
purchased a secondhand item — 89 percent of millennials and 83 percent of Gen Z
shopped resale. That shows the tilt towards resale is there with younger
shoppers in ways that are erasing any prior, dated stigmas or stereotypes of
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Falling right in line with the broader trend of climate-driven purchasing
behaviors by younger
the report stated that well above 20 percent of Millennial and Gen Z buyers
placed “reducing environmental impact” as a factor in choosing to buy something
secondhand. Those numbers also track on the opposite side — as younger consumers
are also looking for more ways to extend the life of unused items through
“We’ve seen a notable shift in the conversation around resale within the retail
industry; and it’s clear that resale will play an important role in the wider
industry’s move towards a more circular economy,” Visa
chief sustainability officer Douglas
Sabo told SB.
The shift is so notable that retail-adjacent players such as Visa are reshaping
portions of their business as more shoppers turn to recommerce.
For Visa, this innovation comes in the form of initiatives such as its recently
launched Recommerce Behavioral Insights Lab
— which is facilitating several real-world experiments to better understand how
to integrate circular practices into everyday retail.
According to Sabo, resale businesses are still working on that consumer
connection — with only 23 percent of UK-based small businesses, for example,
offering a resale option.
For a company such as eBay — arguably a resale pioneer
long before it was ever a burgeoning trend — it requires a redefinition of what
the platform could be for a new generation of buyers and sellers.
“Our platform has transformed into a hub for recommerce in many categories,
driven by the sustainability-conscious preferences of younger generations like
Gen Z,” says Renee Morin, the company’s chief sustainability officer.
Despite the emergence of rival platforms such as Mercari, eBay remains a go-to,
global marketplace for verified and authenticated goods through various self-run
programs — especially with small appliances and electronics, which stand to have
a greater positive environmental
the longer they’re kept in service and out of the trash.
“Growth in eBay
Refurbished GMV (gross
merchandise volume) accelerated during Q1 2023, posting double-digit
year-over-year growth with the addition of new categories — including computing
and video game peripherals — as well as more brands and OEMs in existing
categories,” Morin adds.
One of the more interesting findings to come out of Mercari’s Reuse Report was
the growth in male-identifying buyers exploring resale. 90 percent of
male-identified consumers surveyed said they plan to purchase at least one
secondhand item in the next year — and that’s supported by a 14.5 percent
year-over-year growth in the “menswear” category on Mercari. Clearly,
men’s-focused clothing is growing; and men are looking for more access to
expensive items (sneakers, watches, etc) through verified resale channels.
(GlobalData expects the “menswear” category to grow by 152 percent by 2031,
according to the report. This is second only to “footwear,” which arguably could
be partially incorporated into the “menswear” category, but remains separate for
Over the last three years, apparel has easily been the largest growth category
for recommerce — driven by streetwear, luxury and outdoor apparel brands alike looking to tap into new
channels with current and new buyers. Whether by letting current customers buy
and sell old pieces or offering a company’s own deadstock, flawed items or
apparel appears to be the most agile area for resale.
Recommerce is sure to continue evolving as consumers continue to explore it. Any
entity with a stake in retail should adopt new messaging and offer more
education to grow the segment, which is already making impact both in terms of
the environment and the corporate bottom line: As Recurate asserted in its
inaugural Resale Report,
recommerce will be key for brands to unlock the next level of growth, engagement
and consumer loyalty.
Published Aug 22, 2023 8am EDT / 5am PDT / 1pm BST / 2pm CEST
Geoff is a freelance journalist and copywriter focused on making the world a better place through compelling copy. He covers everything from apparel to travel while helping brands worldwide craft their messaging. In addition to Sustainable Brands, he's currently a contributor at Penta, AskMen.com, Field Mag and many others. You can check out more of his work at geoffnudelman.com.