The Boom of the Resale Market: Can Your Brand capitalize? 

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According to ThredUp, one of the world's largest online thrift stores, resale is growing 21 times as fast as the broader retail sector  and will soon become a $51 billion market. Pre-pandemic estimates initially benchmarked 2023 as the year the resale market would cross the 50 billion mark, but the rise  was accelerated  by rapidly shifting consumer perceptions in 2020. Reflected in the social data is a rising awareness around environmental issues and conscious spending. 

The global boom in internet shopping and the resale market has its roots in much more than the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Traditional retailers in the USA and Canada saw a 129% increase in e-commerce sales during Q1 & Q2 of 2020,  but much of this growth was plagued by supply chain issues. The structural shock that started in China in February, and the demand shock that followed as the global economy shut down, exposed vulnerabilities in the production strategies and supply chains of businesses on an international scale. This perfect storm created the ideal environment for the second hand and resale market to flourish.

As a result of these market changes, e-commerce shops and small disruptors have been innovating on traditional sales methods. Some big logos have responded  by partnering with niche players  in the resale market. Proactive brands decided to incentivize shoppers using new resale platforms with promo codes and discounts to encourage  shopping at brick and mortar retail stores. Contrary to what many believe, second-hand sales do not reduce the purchase of new goods. They simply move the sales to new channels. The right approach to marketing resold items can complement the sales of new goods. Companies can reinforce the value of their brands, and make their products accessible to consumers that their retailers can cultivate.

The Resale Consumer

The conversation around the second-hand market and associated brands have grown significantly in the last few years. For many consumers, the appeal does not only lie in cost savings but also in making conscious, sustainable choices. New parents can find gently worn clothing for rapidly growing children, fashionistas can snag rare finds, and vintage lovers can discover collector’s items. There is a strong connection between second-hand products, sustainability and ethical consumption, and the conversation straddles several industries.

boom-resale-market-conversationsSource: Linkfluence Radarly, Top Industries in Resale Worldwide, English Posts, Nov 2019 to Oct 2020

Consumers have built their own communities around the resale of products, and startup companies are popping up to fill the voids larger brands are not accurately addressing. Is your industry part of the conversation? From Gen-Z fashionistas, families, and vintage leaders, If your company is interested in the resale trend, we’ve got social data insights that can boost your presence in this market.

Benchmarking the Industries


Young consumers especially understand that conscious consumption and participating in the circular economy is key to reducing climate footprint. As a direct result of their awareness, Gen Z is driving much of the growth in the second-hand luxury market. Women are the champions of the sustainable clothing industry as they opt for consigned and vintage items over new fast fashion.

Fast fashion and clothing waste drive the most conversations within the sustainability territory, with 5.8m recorded English-speaking conversations on the subject over the last year. 10%, approx 570k, of which explicitly link sustainability and second hand shopping.


Source: Linkfluence Search, Demographics of those talking about second hand + sustainability in their posts

The boom reflects broader market trends, as fashion looks to tap into new digital business models and reach a younger generation. Where previously, luxury brands were reluctant to get involved in second-hand sales, platforms like Thredup and The RealReal have now grown too big to ignore. 

Gucci is one of the latest industry giants  to capitalize on this trend. The fashion house recently announced its partnership with consigned clothes retailer The RealReal and  introduced a sustainable incentive for shoppers to buy and consign their goods on The RealReal. This online consignment shop has 17+ million users to its site monthly and features  clothing, watches, jewelry, kids clothing, and more. For every Gucci item purchased or sold, a tree is planted through One Tree Planted, a nonprofit working on global reforestation.

With Burberry and Stella McCartney having already joined the marketplace, Gucci’s announcement comes at a time when the resale market for fashion is expected to nearly double within the next five years from $28 billion to $64 billion by 2025. Fashion companies that were concerned with the dilution of their brand’s exclusivity and prestige as resellers grew, now partner with them. It was after all, their resistance that allowed second-hand marketplaces sprang up online.

In this context, Depop’s stellar rise as the resale marketplace of choice for Gen-Z doesn’t come as a surprise. The number of conversations mentioning the platform have tripled between January and May, and the company  has reported that the demand for its service doubled during the Covid-19 lockdown.boom-resale-market-depop

Source: Linkfluence Radarly, Evolution of conversations mentioning Depop over the lockdown

The platform’s success is twofold as it also functions as a social media platform where users can follow each other, like and share their favorite looks and create curated collections that are visible to others. Tags like #thriftedstyle and #charityshopfinds highlight that this is not only a consumption decision but a new aesthetic choice by Gen-Z. Numerous influencers use the platform as well to sell their looks using tags like, #preloved fashion or #fastfashiondetox as  sustainability statements.

As fashion brands migrate to Depop, it's clear that industry leaders are beginning to understand the benefits of reselling platforms. Beyond adding to their  bottom line, these platforms contribute to the responsible consumption and circular fashion economy. A key step moving forward will be identifying which of the many reselling platforms is the correct partner for your brand. 


Much of the conversation surrounding the sale of vintage and second hand watches happens on dedicated forums such as watchuseek, valueyourwatch, or the watchexchange subreddit. Subscribers use the platforms to sell and buy preowned watches. In order to discuss vintage models and connect with others, watch enthusiasts often simply use the reference number as a hashtag.


Source: Linkfluence Search, Demographics of those talking about vintage or second-hand watches

With over 400k English language posts collected over the last 12 months mentioning vintage or second-hand watches, this pre-owned segment is booming. Buyers have realized that current models can be brought in ‘as new’ condition at a significant discount, and products  that were once overlooked are now being recognized for their aesthetics and high levels of craftsmanship.

Sales of second-hand “hard luxury”, mainly jewelry and watches, is expected to grow at an average of 8 per cent year-on-year until 2023 according to data compiled by consultancy BCG. BCG says watches dominate the segment, accounting for 75 per cent of a market estimated to be worth €21bn annually. 

As aesthetics are a key concern for those in the market for a rare watch, it's no wonder that Instagram is a key social channel driving sales. Watch collector site, Hodinkee (698K followers) is a trusted source of information on legendary models. Those followers directly translate into sales for users like @a_collected_man (104k followers). The e-commerce site linked to the Instagram page launched in 2014 has surpassed £25m in sales of pre-owned watches and, with a quarter of the year remaining, has already exceeded last year’s turnover of £9.5m 

The luxury goods group Richemont, a savvy industry leader,  surprised many industry analysts  by acquiring  second-hand platform Watchfinder & Co. in 2018. Today,  it's clear they anticipated the boom of the second-hand market. The UK company, which began as a small-scale start-up in 2002, now has a turnover of £120m per year.

With tags like #watchfam (4.3m posts on IG), #watchcollector (3M posts),  #vintagewatch (1,3M posts), and #rolexaholics (414.7k posts) dominating watch posts on Instagram, entry-level luxury consumers and newcomers to the world of the watches can easily find desired products. These tribes are accompanied by watch collectors who are most interested in rare models and exclusivity. 

While entry level luxury consumers and genuine newcomers are inexperienced in the market and thus rather interested in buying classics, the watch collectors are more experimental thanks to their breadth of knowledge. For all tribes however, the scarcity of certain models is a key argument for turning towards the second-hand market. While the waiting list for some models can stretch over several years, the options on the second-hand market are likely to be more accessible.


While vintage enthusiasts make a strong showing, authorized dealers are dominating the conversation surrounding automotive industry resale. Consumers turn to resellers to find classic models or a bargain. Leading mentions on social media are German automotive brands, including Audi, BMW, Porsche, and Volkswagen. However, Toyota, Tesla, Ford, and Ferrari also make it into the mix.


Source: Linkfluence Search, 4.2m Social Posts reference the automotive industry on the wider social web

DIY enthusiasts, who are looking to buy old, but not necessarily vintage, cars are prominent on social media as they showcase their refurbishment and customizations. With over 1.6m posts, the #vintagecars tag on Instagram is the clear leader in this segment, but niche tags still provide an opportunity to brands looking to capitalize on this trend.


Source: Instagram, #drivetastefully a niche tag among vintage car enthusiasts

With the normally dominant authorized dealerships out of the running due to the  closed  showrooms, consumers are more open-minded when shopping for cars on line. Industry leaders Toyota Automotive have identified this trend in North America and are anticipating that COVID-19 is accelerating what one executive called the “Amazon Effect”

Although used car sellers like Carvana and Vroom are already active in the space, there is plenty of room in the market for competitors.


Some parents are  cherishing conscious consumption and thus opting for secondhand items instead of new ones. 1.2m posts relating to preloved children products were collected over the last 12 months 



Source: Linkfluence Search, Demographcis of those discussing the resale market and kids products

Those who are shopping in this resale market have similar concerns to those who turn to fashion resellers for secondhand clothing. Parents, those who opt for buying second-hand kids' clothing out of necessity or those who do it for sustainability reasons, contribute to the responsible consumption and circular fashion economy. It makes economic sense to cost conscious consumers, kids growing out of both clothing and toys is the key driver for second-hand buying. 

Hashtags like #preloved often appear in the kids resale market, but the dominant tags for toys reference #vintage, #shoplocal, and #handmade. Etsy is a popular platform here, but brands like Disney make an appearance for both apparel and toys.

More specialized sites like Kidizen cater directly to parents looking for high quality preloved items. The company refers to itself as a marketplace for entrepreneurial parents, a community to share experiences, and a platform for embracing parenthood.

Tech & Entertainment

Gaming steals the spotlight for the tech and entertainment industry, commandeering 90% of the conversation. More than 50% of those posts come from male gamers who discuss retrogaming consoles and older games. 



Source: Linkfluence Search, Demographics of those discussing the tech and entertainment resale market 

Three key tribes in this industry include cost conscious consumers, vintage and retro enthusiasts, and DIY tech-nerds looking for cameras or video recorders to refurbish. Together, they generated 1.3m social media posts over the last 12 months. 

The gaming community is huge on social media, and the popular resellers are well known and commonly discussed on social gaming platforms like Twitch



Source: Linkfluence Search, Hashtag and Emoji Clouds: Tech and Entertainment Industry

Why Should Brands Care?

Across all sectors, people look to buy resold and vintage items when they are seeking a bargain. The coronavirus pandemic has pushed consumers to explore the resale market, not only for financial reasons but also the increasing environmental awareness of buyers around the world.  

Discover and track trends, and identify your key consumer tribes to enter the space with required authority. Whether your resale market consists of  retro and vintage enthusiasts or conscious consumption advocates, there is still time to benefit. 

The digital resale market is booming and we can help you take proactive steps to stake your claim. From fashion and automotive to tech and entertainment, social media  listening can be the key to identifying new sales and marketing opportunities for your brand.

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