The Rise of the Second-hand Marketplace: Conscious Consumerism Demands a Fresh Approach

Sharina Mutreja
6 minute read

The reduce, reuse, recycle mantra is seeping its way into how we shop.   

A growing focus on climate change over the past few years has created a new sustainable generation that demands more from brands, while at the same time pushing “conscious consumerism” into the mainstream.

From investing in quality, timeless wardrobe staples to shifting their spend to second-hand marketplaces and choosing brands based on their ethical credentials, today’s consumers are increasingly re-evaluating their purchase decisions and the impact they have on the planet.  

The result? Brands are now being forced to re-think how they market their goods, while having a tangible impact on retailers’ bottom lines. 

Our latest spend data, based on the purchasing habits of over 22 million UK bank cards, shows that in the past year, spend at second-hand marketplaces has jumped 85%. 

Whether it is a high-end designer bag, a vintage chair, or some pre-loved children’s toys, with ‘new’ no longer being on trend, it’s no surprise that UK consumers are now almost four times more likely to make a purchase with the likes of Depop, Vinted or eBay than they are with fast fashion brands.  

In fact, the number of second-hand purchases customers make on average per year increased by 28% in 2021, compared to a 1.1% rise for traditional retailers. It is clear that second-hand marketplaces are taking a slice of the traditional retail pie.  

Conscious consumerism isn't a "flash in the pan" fad

This shift in consumer behaviour is pivotal and one traditional retailers must respond to. We have already seen large fashion brands venturing into the sustainability space to capitalise on this trend, offering consumers an alternative and more sustainable way to shop. 

H&M invested heavily in its Conscious range, ASOS created its own marketplace to give second-hand and vintage items a platform, while M&S introduced in-store clothing recycling programs to boost circularity of its products.

Even “fast fashion” brands like Missguided are taking steps to improve their climate footprint and appeal to this consumer base, with the introduction of a new Restyld range made from recycled materials.  

Marketers should think of conscious consumerism not as a challenge to their traditional growth plans, but – like Missguided has - as an opportunity to tap into a new consumer group, create new opportunities to engage with customers, and build more meaningful and more loyal relationships with shoppers.  

So how can retailers compete with the second-hand marketplace? 

To stay “on trend” with this growing set of consumers, retailers and marketers should consider making their eco-friendly ranges front and centre of their marketing campaigns and offer discounts on such clothing lines to shoppers.  

Retailers could also introduce incentives - such as vouchers - for consumers to recycle their old items in store, to help drive footfall, future purchases, and build brand affinity. 

Targeting customers with relevant offers through their banking channel, based on their spend patterns, is an effective way retailers and marketeers can increase engagement and purchases, whether that is online or in-store. 

And with more consumers looking closely at brands’ ethical endeavours, creating hubs on your website and app for your environmental credentials will go a long way in appealing to this growing consumer group.  

How Cardlytics can help 

Because we see 1 in every 4 UK bank transactions, we can develop a marketing strategy to help your brand compete in this new retail market. Contact us today for an analysis and campaign strategy customized for your brand.   

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