Thanks to developments such as brand buy-backs, exchange schemes, online platforms and mobile marketplaces, consumers have never had an easier time unlocking the value of past purchases, according to an October 2011 briefing from trendwatching.com. Calling this trend “Re-commerce,” trendwatching.com says it has reached the point where consumers frequently factor in an item’s resale value into the cost of ownership for an ever-wider range of purchases.
While trendwatching.com notes consumers have always resold large, durable goods like cars and houses, now almost anything is ripe for resale, from electronics to clothes, and even experiences. trendwatching.com identifies three main drivers for Re-commerce: “Next-ism,” “Statusphere,” and “Excusumption.” Following are brief overviews of each driver.
Expectations Create ‘Nextism’
What trendwatching.com refers to as the “Expectation Economy,” or an economy inhabited by experienced, well-informed consumers who have a long list of high expectations that they apply to each and every good, service and experience on offer, has created a consumer class that expect the “best of the best” in every purchase, and these same demanding consumers are also increasingly driven by an immediate desire to collect as many experiences as possible.
trendwatching.com says this rise of “Nextism” explains the lure of new products, goods and services: improved features, higher quality or updated design promise a novel or enhanced experience, and therefore ultimately a better or more interesting life.
‘Statusphere’ Moves beyond Consumption
trendwatching.com identifies the search for social status as the heart of all consumer trends. But the diversification of what the consumer trend consulting firm calls the “Statusphere” means that many consumers derive status from more than just ownership of the biggest, fastest or shiniest objects. “New” status is now being defined by post-consumption criteria such as acquired skills, generosity, connectedness or eco-credentials.
In fact, trendwatching.com says growing numbers of consumers get their status fix from being shrewd and savvy, rather than through conspicuous consumption. However, this trend isn’t about complete unconsumption, but about a more considered consumerism where it’s smart to get cash or discounts for old or (un)used items, or to dispose of things responsibly.
‘Excusumption’ Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry for a Purchase
The continued economic instability in the West means more and more consumers make do with less and less. Despite this, trendwatching.com says consumers remain hungry for new experiences, which makes selling, trading, or exchanging old/unused items a perfect excuse for a smart, new, guilt-free purchase. And with (most) consumers in mature economies having had a lifetime of hyperconsumption, there is no shortage of under-used previous purchases.
trendwatching.com also identifies a growing number of savvy consumers (whether hit by the recession or not), who are actively upgrading their consumption. They are encouraged to purchase or even invest in higher quality or premium brands now, knowing that they can be easily and lucratively (re)sold anyway.
Gallup: Consumer Spend Remains Stagnant
US consumer spending has remained essentially stagnant since it fell dramatically in January 2009, according to Gallup data released in September 2011. Spending in stores, restaurants, gas stations, and online has averaged $66 per day so far in 2011; similar to $65 in 2010 and $64 in 2009. However, the 2011 figure is 31% lower with an average of $96 per day in 2008. That year, Americans’ daily spending ranged from $81 to $114 per day in monthly averages. Since 2009, monthly spending averages have ranged between $58 and $75.