From thrift stores to your fingertips: The future of second-hand clothing

Are you ready to discover the game-changing trend that's shaking up the fashion industry? The rise of online platforms for buying and selling second-hand clothing has taken the world by storm, and we're here to uncover the reasons behind its skyrocketing success. 


Gone are the days of digging through dusty racks at flea markets and brick-and-mortar stores. The virtual world now offers endless opportunities for fashion enthusiasts to build a unique, sustainable wardrobe without breaking the bank. From the early days of Ebay to the emergence of specialized platforms like Depop and Vinted, the second-hand clothing market has never been hotter. 


But the trend doesn't stop there. Big names in fast fashion like Zalando and Asos have also jumped on the bandwagon, offering their own ad hoc sections for pre-loved products. 


So, what motivates consumers to choose between Marketplace platforms and Brand Owner platforms? Our ad hoc research, representative of the Italian population by gender, age, and geographic area, delves into consumer attitudes and market positioning. Get ready to uncover the fascinating insights behind this fashion phenomenon. 


The consumer 

Our data shows that a staggering 25% of respondents buy used clothes more than once a month, with Millennials making up 33% of this group. The trend shows no sign of slowing down either, with 45% of respondents reporting an increase in second-hand purchases compared to last year. 

But what exactly are people buying? Our data shows that bags are the most popular item, making up 45% of purchases, followed closely by jackets and coats (38%) and sweatshirts (35%). Interestingly, young adults (18-34 years) prefer to buy dresses (42%) while seniors (55-65 years) opt for bags (53%). 



Motivations for buying second-hand clothes on online platforms vary by age group. For 18-34 year olds, expressing their personal style and making an environmentally responsible choice are key drivers. They're passionate about self-expression and sustainability, making them the SELF-EXPRESSION ORIENTED segment. In contrast, the 35-44 year old group enjoys the process of putting together unique outfits and supporting good causes, earning them the FUN AND SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE label. Finally, the 45-65 year old group are all about bargains and savings, with access to higher quality or luxury items at a lower price being the top priority. They're the BARGAIN HUNTERS of the bunch. 



Awareness, consideration, usership 

In our examination of brand awareness, consideration, and usership, we delved into the top players in the Italian market for the Marketplace platforms category (which consists of stores where a third party sells, for example Wallapop, Vinted and and Brand Owner platforms (where the brand itself initiates the reselling of its own secondhand products). Despite being fewer in number, Brand Owner platforms boast an impressive 43% brand awareness, even though they cannot compete with the dominant and established players in the Marketplace category. This holds true for consideration and usership as well, as Marketplace platforms command a significant market share and high values. However, it's important to note that the tide may turn in the coming years as more brands are motivated by consumer demand and the climate change emergency to launch similar initiatives and gain recognition and consideration. Unlike many Marketplace platforms, Brand Owner platforms take the lead in ensuring product quality, which could give them a competitive edge in the long run. 


Brand Image Attributes

Upon analyzing the image attributes of Marketplace platforms versus Brand Owner platforms, we can observe that the former are widely viewed as more Affordable, with a 5% edge, and Youthful, with a 2% edge. On the other hand, Brand Owner platforms are perceived as being somewhat more Secure than Marketplace platforms. Both types of platforms are perceived as equally Reliable, Innovative, and Ethical. Interestingly, Marketplace platforms are perceived to be of lower quality than Brand Owner platforms on average. These findings align with people's overall perception of these platforms. Safety is becoming an increasingly serious concern for Marketplace platforms, which have historically provided less protection for consumers. The perception of lower quality on Marketplace platforms can be attributed to the fact that the seller is a third party, and there is no guarantee that the product that arrives in the mail matches the ad and does not have more damage than described in the product description. 


Bottom line is the rise of online platforms for buying and selling second-hand clothing has revolutionized the fashion industry, offering sustainable and affordable options to consumers. While Marketplace platforms currently dominate the market, Brand Owner platforms are gaining traction due to their emphasis on quality and security. As more brands enter the market, and as these platforms adapt to the changing needs of consumers, we can expect this trend to continue and evolve in exciting ways. 


De-influencing: A shift towards authenticity in the age of skepticism

In recent years, influencer marketing has taken the advertising world by storm. Companies have poured billions of dollars into collaborations with social media influencers to promote their products to their followers. However, in the past year or so, there has been a growing trend of "de-influencing", a movement that challenges the traditional influencer model and pushes for more authenticity and transparency in advertising. 


The de-influencing trend has been driven by a number of factors. One of the most significant is the growing awareness of the potential for sponsored content. Many consumers have become more skeptical of influencers' recommendations, believing that they may not be genuine and are simply a way for influencers to make money. This skepticism has been compounded by several high-profile influencer scandals, which have highlighted the potential for dishonesty and unethical behavior in the industry. 


Another factor driving the de-influencing trend is the economic crisis that has resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. As people become more aware of how they spend their money, particularly on non-essentials, they are looking for more value and authenticity in the products they buy. They are no longer content to simply follow the recommendations of influencers and are instead seeking out more objective information from a variety of sources. 


Despite the growing trend towards de-influencing, it is worth noting that some of this movement is, in fact, influencer marketing in disguise. Influencers on platforms such as TikTok, for example, may claim to be advising their followers against buying a particular product because it is not worth the money. However, in doing so, they may be promoting a cheaper alternative that they have a financial interest in promoting. 


While the de-influencing trend is still in its early stages, it is clear that consumers are becoming more discerning and are looking for more genuine interactions with brands and individuals. Companies that embrace authenticity and transparency in their marketing efforts are likely to see the greatest success in this new landscape. 


It's important to note that influencer marketing is still a highly effective tool for brands looking to grow their audience and boost their sales. When done right, influencer marketing can generate incredible ROI, increase brand awareness, and build trust with consumers. However, in the current climate of de-influencing, it's important for brands to be mindful of this trend and understand how to tackle the problem. 


One way for brands to navigate the de-influencing trend is to shift their focus from macro-influencers to micro-influencers. Micro-influencers tend to have smaller but more engaged audiences, and their followers often trust their recommendations more than those of larger influencers. Brands can also look to build long-term relationships with influencers, rather than just one-off partnerships, to establish trust and authenticity with their audience. During one of our studies conducted for a well-known agro-food brand, we found that the use of a macro-influencer led to significantly better results in terms of brand awareness, while the difference in results between macro and micro-influencers for opinion, consideration, and preference was less pronounced. However, we found that micro-influencers performed better in the lower part of the funnel, namely intention-to-buy. 


micro macro influencers


A study by Influencer Intelligence found that engagement rates for Instagram influencers with fewer than 1000 followers were 8.8%, compared to 1.7% for influencers with over 100,000 followers. This suggests that micro-influencers may have more engaged audiences and higher levels of trust with their followers. 


Another study by Markerly analyzed over 800,000 Instagram accounts and found that influencers with between 1,000 and 10,000 followers had the highest engagement rates on average. This suggests that micro-influencers may be more effective at driving engagement and building brand awareness than larger influencers. 


Another strategy for brands is to focus on creating authentic content that resonates with their target audience. By showcasing real people and real experiences, brands can build a loyal customer base that values authenticity and transparency. Brands can also invest in user-generated content, which is often seen as more trustworthy and relatable than branded content. 


In terms of honesty and transparency, a study by Stackla found that 90% of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding which brands to support. Another study by Edelman found that 63% of consumers trust what influencers say about brands more than what brands say about themselves. This suggests that being honest and transparent with consumers can be a powerful way for brands to build trust and loyalty with their audience. 


Ultimately, the de-influencing trend is a cautionary tale for brands to be mindful of the changing tides in the advertising world. By being transparent, authentic, and focused on building relationships with their audience, brands can continue to leverage the power of influencer marketing in a way that resonates with consumers and drives business results. 


It’s a response to the growing skepticism and demand for authenticity in the advertising world, but it is also a symptom of the economic crisis that has made consumers more aware of how they spend their money. While there may be some disguised influencer marketing within the movement, it is ultimately a call for more transparency and honesty in the industry. Companies that respond to this call are likely to thrive in the new landscape of advertising. 

Scoring big with sponsorships: Choosing the right sport for your brand

Sponsorships are an effective marketing strategy that many brands use to boost their brand image, increase awareness, and drive consideration. However, the results a brand gets from sponsoring a sport or team can vary significantly based on the sport, team, and competitive landscape. In this article, we will make a case for how brands who sponsor certain sports get different results on brand image attributes, awareness, and consideration based on the sport and team they decide to sponsor while also considering the competitive landscape in their industry. 


Exclusive sponsorships and their impact on brand image and awareness 

Let's consider the case of Brand X who decided to sponsor a sport with no other competitors in its industry actively sponsoring sports. As a result, we observed a significant increase in brand awareness during the active season of the sport. Specifically, in the two periods analyzed, brand awareness increased by 70.4% and 96.5% for fans of the sport. Even for those who watch the sport infrequently and are not as engaged as to call themselves fans, the brand awareness was respectively 48.1% and 41.4% higher during the same active seasons. It's important to note that brand awareness for both watchers and fans increased throughout the year, indicating that the impact of the sponsorship was long-lasting and effective on the upper funnel. 


Additionally, the sponsorship had a positive impact on the brand image attributes. The sponsored sport registered a boost in reliability, quality, ease of use, and most notably, distinctiveness. This could be due to the fact that Brand X was the only company in its industry sponsoring this sport, giving it a unique and memorable positioning. There was also an increase in attributes related to being forward-looking, such as being smart, digital, up-to-date, and future-oriented. This demonstrates how different sports can impact various brand image attributes and how choosing the right sponsorship can have a significant impact on the latter. 



Communicating sponsorships and the effects it has on the brand 

Now, let's consider the case of Brand Y who decided to sponsor a popular sport in a highly competitive landscape where many of its competitors also sponsor sports. We analyzed the impact of the sponsorship on Brand Y's brand KPIs after they added the sponsorship to their advertising campaigns, while the other elements in the ads remained the same. 


We observed that the addition of the sponsorship made the ad more attention-grabbing, original, and appreciated by viewers. However, there was nearly no impact on memorability or ad credibility. The new campaign also communicated higher levels of originality, brand credibility, and historicity as the popularity of the sport contributed with its own reputation attributes. 


It's important to note that different teams and sports will likely impact different attributes of a brand image. More niche sports could communicate exclusivity, while usually successful teams could communicate reliability. Sponsoring players, teams, or sports that have been around for a long time and are dear to their fans could communicate a strong sense of closeness to the brand and give a perception of competence. 




Famous case studies 

Research has shown that sports sponsorship can have a significant impact on a brand's image and perception, particularly when the sponsorship is exclusive or when it is associated with a popular and relevant sport. For example, Red Bull's well-known sponsorship of extreme sports has helped to establish the brand's image as youthful, dynamic, and exciting, while Nike's sponsorship of high-profile sports teams and athletes has reinforced its image as a reliable and competent athletic brand. 


According to a study conducted by McKinsey & Company in 2017, sports sponsorship can have a significant impact on a brand's performance. The study found that companies that increased their sponsorship spending by at least 10% saw a 7% increase in brand preference and a 6% increase in purchase intent among consumers. Similarly, a 2019 Forbes article stated that sports sponsorship can lead to increased brand equity, customer loyalty, and social media engagement. The article cited a case study of Nike's sponsorship of the NFL's Colin Kaepernick, which resulted in a 31% increase in online sales for the brand thanks to the revolutionary stance he had taken against police brutality and racial inequality, jeopardizing his career for a cause he deeply believed in. In this instance, by sponsoring Kaepernick, Nike chose to align its brand to his values and the company was rewarded by consumers.  


In conclusion, sponsorships can have a significant impact on a brand's image and reputation, and choosing the right sponsorship can make all the difference. Brands should carefully consider the landscape of their industry, their competitors' sponsorships, and the attributes they want to communicate to their target audience when deciding which sports or teams to sponsor.