A market that is worth between 30 and 40 million dollars and with a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) between + 15% and + 20% in the next five years: the second hand economy is a disruptive phenomenon, which has been carved out a consolidated role within the fashion system, due to the growing attention of consumers towards sustainability, the fight against waste, attractive prices and the uniqueness of the garments. This is reflected in the study conducted, for the second consecutive year, by the Vestiaire Collective platform together with the American multinational Boston Consulting Group “The consumers behind fashion's growing secondhand market” which analyses the dynamics of the resale market and consumer purchasing behaviour.
The data collected through a survey carried out on 7 thousand people in six different states, highlighted the positive trend of the global secondhand market, which for some e-tailers in countries with a solid and developed economy could even reach a CAGR of + 100% in the next five years. The expansion is driven both by the growth of new consumers (+10 million in 2019 compared to 2018), and by the greater number of items purchased: these two factors combined suggest that the share of vintage garments in wardrobes will rise from + 21% of 2020 to + 27% in 2023.
But what are the drivers that push consumers to buy secondhand clothing? First of all sustainability – which goes from the propensity for ethical and environmental friendly labels, to the reduction of waste, up to including circular economy -, therefore the possibility of buying unique garments at attractive prices and giving a second life to their own garments while making a profit (which is often reintroduced into the resale market with the purchase of other secondhand garments).
In particular, the study shows that 85% of secondhand buyers participate in reducing excessive consumption by exchanging fast fashion for a smaller number of superior quality and durable items. 70% of consumers also say that the existence of the secondhand market encourages them to better take care of the items they own, and 60% of sellers would not have given their clothes a second life without the secondhand market.
Looking at general preferences, the study identifies six consumer profiles, each with distinct attitudes and behaviours in interacting with the secondhand market, offering valuable insights to help brands better understand today's and tomorrow's buyers, and how they can evolve from occasional luxury buyers to brand loyalists…
For Vestiaire Collective and BCG, even luxury fashion brands can in fact benefit from the secondhand market, which can become a valuable ally in the acquisition of new customer targets and their loyalty. In fact, 62% of consumers interviewed stated that they are more inclined to buy labels that collaborate with secondhand players. 48% of them bought a new brand through the secondhand channel and would consider other purchases of the same brand. It is therefore essential for brands to start strategies aimed at consolidating brand value and brand awareness also in this market segment.
In conclusion a final consideration. With 69% of consumers willing to buy more secondhand pieces in the future, the secondhand market seems ready to satisfy the growing desire of consumers to have unique, good value and sustainable garments.