74% of Millennials Would Like Pre-Owned Gifts — Here’s How Resale Can Flourish During the Holidays

Younger shoppers are no longer afraid of secondhand gifting —67% of millennials said they would be likely to give a pre-owned item as a gift, according to data from Trove. An even higher number, 74% of millennials said they would like to receive a pre-owned gift — just one sign that the potential for resale to become a regular destination for holiday shopping is even greater than many people realize.

“More of us would like to receive a gift pre-owned because of values like sustainability,” said Andy Ruben, Founder and executive chairman of Trove in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “More of us would like to receive [such] a gift than people believe, which continues to show the momentum of this trend in the direction that it’s gone for the past several years. This year will be the biggest year yet for the giving of pre-owned items.”

Interest in resale purchases overall is high — 74% of people across all major markets, ages, genders and socioeconomic statuses shop resale, according to data from Recurate. More shoppers are recognizing properly vetted secondhand items as being good as new, which is driving resale’s potential as an environmentally friendly source for gifting.

“A lot of people are becoming thoughtful about what they buy, how much they buy, what the quality is and things like that,” said Karin Dillie, VP of Partnerships at Recurate in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Because resale is growing so quickly, I think it’s becoming more and more normalized that you can give resale as a gift. I started doing it back in 2017, when I would just buy great bags for my sister on The RealReal.”


Resale Thrives in Tough Economic Times

The global challenges of the 2022 holiday season have made resale particularly attractive this year by offering a remedy for both inflation and tight supply chains. Resale can provide a differentiator on top of the usual Black Friday sales and other promotional activities, giving brands and retailers an edge when trying to drive sales from cost-conscious consumers.

Aspirational brands in particular can benefit from resale’s ability to make products more affordable. Some luxury brands try to limit discounts or avoid discounting altogether, but highlighting secondhand options makes these items accessible to a larger audience. Since younger shoppers are increasingly open to gifting pre-owned goods, this can be an excellent way to draw in new customers using tactics outside the usual promotions.

“I kind of always had the assumption that a lot of people engage in resale because of sustainability,” said Dillie. “It was actually the third reason that people bought recommerce — the first reason was value. That is super interesting to brands, because brands want their customers to fall in love with their product and the quality and the craftsmanship. But if they don’t have a way besides discounting to bring in those news customers, it’s kind of hard to get them in. Resale is another option for customer acquisition.

Peak Design Makes Resale Part of Black Friday

Retailers don’t have to choose one angle or the other — some are working resale into their broader holiday-oriented promotions, such as camera bag retailer Peak Design. Dillie noted that the company is very focused on environmentalism and sustainability, which makes Earth Day an important event for the company.

This year, Peak Design celebrated resale by providing resellers with additional store credit when they listed a used item in the three weeks leading up to the holiday — and on Earth Day proper, Peak Design actually blacked out its entire site with a message encouraging shoppers to buy resale. People could still click out of the blackout image to buy new if they wanted, but the message was clear.

Peak Design isn’t blacking out the site for Black Friday, but the company is incentivizing shoppers to list their used items in the weeks leading up to the holiday. Additionally, resale options are being promoted alongside more traditional Black Friday offerings across all marketing channels.

Recommerce Unlocks a Second Supply Chain

The volatility of supply chains for the past year has made sourcing new products a tricky proposition, as retailers struggle with empty shelves in the face of high demand — or accidentally overstock items to prepare for potential shortages that never materialize. Resale provides an opportunity for retailers and brands to normalize what they have by tapping a resource that is closer to home.

“It’s an alternative way to source goods,” said Ruben. “These goods exist, they’re local, they’re in customers’ closets — so the ability to access that at scale provides a whole new direction for retailers in this inflationary, more uncertain supply chain world. The supply chains still have not recovered from COVID. Things will get better, but supply chain challenges and inflation will continue to be an issue in the near future.”

Ruben noted that the most successful resellers deal with resale on a larger scale, which is particularly crucial for the holidays. Shoppers are time-strapped and want to ensure they can find what they need when they need it, and sufficient inventory can make or break a holiday shopping experience.

The scalability of the programs for the brands that we work with is so crucial,” he said. It’s far easier for shoppers to find something in the right size and color if there are thousands items available compared to a dozen. Additionally, good returns policies and guaranteed delivery dates are vital for driving sales during the time-sensitive holiday season.

Gifting Makes Authenticity Even More Important

The final piece of the puzzle for holiday resale will be authenticity. Shoppers aren’t going to forgive a retailer who sells them a flawed secondhand item, let alone a fake, so trust is paramount. Different brands have different ways of managing quality assurance, but they must maintain a high standard no matter how they go about it.

“When you’re buying an item from Patagonia or lululemon or any of our partners, all of those items have been inspected,” said Ruben. “They’ve all been authenticated, verified, and everything’s been looked over. They believe this is going to be an experience fitting of the brand.”

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