With the used car resale boom, do we still know how to give?

You don’t use it, sell it! The slogan of Vinted, the main second-hand resale platform, clothes in mind, no longer shocks Véronique, 57, who admits it: “I used to despise this type of transaction a little, until I discovered the disconcerting ease with which to increase your piggy bank on these platforms. In particular, I put many items in Le Bon Coin and, clearly, this helps me to survive today. The economic argument is a little different for Carole, 52: “I have always had the habit of donating clothes or objects to a charity close to home, but my 17-year-old daughter forbids it! She sets everything aside to resell online and that makes a good addition to her allowance. But selling rather than giving, I admit I’m not very comfortable with that. »

A question of generation

Carole’s daughter isn’t the only one making money there. At Vinted, resales would represent for 22% of young people aged 10 to 18 their main source of allowance* with an average of €25 per month, which, for older teenagers, would replace the babysitting service. Aurélien, 20 years old, looks for “beautiful pieces” on platforms (Vinted but also Videdressing or Le Bon Coin), buys them, wears them for a few weeks and resells them at a higher price – a market that grows by more than 140 % between 2019 and 2021 with an estimated turnover in France of 7 billion euros**. A tidal wave that also destroyed the furniture, especially the decor with a “vintage” print.

Bean table, Formica sideboard, Pyrex service, misjudged yesterday, have become very popular. “The second-hand and old-fashioned market has long been linked to an image of degradation inherited from war and periods of deprivation, explains Joan Le Goff***, professor of management at Upec. But the new generations no longer have these negative references, just as selling and buying old ones is no longer perceived as a demeaning act. It’s even becoming an ethical and very trendy approach! 🇧🇷

* Study Kard, 2021

**Tripartite Fintech Study, 2022

*** Co-author of the Nouvelle Jeunesse de l’occasion, L’Harmattan.

economy or bulimia

In fact, 46% of people who buy and sell second-hand goods say they also do so “out of concern for the environment and to limit waste”*. An excuse to ease your conscience? Internet reselling is often a funny thing. “We always end up buying more because it’s cheaper,” warns Maud Herbert, professor of marketing and consumer culture at the University of Lille. And the possibility of reselling again makes the act of buying more compulsive. “A real bulimia… The numbers confirm: in 2020, buyers of used clothes made an average of seven more purchases than those who bought new clothes*. “Finally, they spend and consume more, not least because the platforms play the expansion card with a lot of revenue”, she continues. In addition, many fashionistas feed these sites and not followers of the declining economy…” Big brands (Carrefour, Ikea, La Redoute) are also surfing the trend, recovering old furniture and second-hand clothes from their customers in exchange for vouchers. in your stores. Some have their “corners” of second-hand products, under a solidarity and eco-responsible banner… which, incidentally, has the advantage above all of attracting and retaining customers.

🇧🇷 Kantar Institute study, 2020.5. Source: La Poste Group, 2021.

The Internet has dematerialized the other, this stranger to whom it is easier to sell

A relative ecological gain

Should we still believe in the “green” gesture? “Extending the useful life of a garment will certainly be less polluting than making new ones, but if you accumulate identical products, even second-hand ones, the ecological gain is zero”, says Maud Herbert. Especially as these resales lead to an explosion in individual-to-individual unit deliveries. Packets pile up in back rooms that serve as relays. In the e-commerce department, Colissimo alone handles around 2 million orders per day5. Online research and the hosting of millions of advertisements also increase the energy bill of the datacentres connected to these platforms… An invisible pollution that Hélène, 45, is unaware of, who says she deliberately sets very low prices (between €2 and €3 per clothing) and thus promote solidarity. “I think it’s more respectful of the dignity of the other, who won’t have the feeling that we’re doing charity for him”, she defends. For Joan Le Goff, “Giving or going shopping for an old lady will always create more value and social ties than reselling, even cheaply, her old pair of Nike sneakers. Especially as those who are really economically forced to buy second-hand often find themselves excluded from the digital tools used by sellers. They mostly turn to charities. 🇧🇷

Big losers and others…

These associations, precisely, such as Emmaüs or the Solidarity Shops of the Red Cross or the Secours populaire, are directly affected by the commercial platforms. They underline this perverse effect: the decrease in the quality of everything that is given. “There is now a very strong stratification of the second-hand market, explains Joan Le Goff. The best is sold online, the worst in bazaars and the rest is donated to associations. Valérie Fayard, Deputy Executive Director of Emmaus France, has realized this for fifteen years: “From now on, we give less and we give less well. We face very strong competition from second-hand sales platforms. As a result, charities often only recover what is not resalable! Of a hundred donated products, sixty were reused twenty years ago, while today there are only forty-five products”, explains Valérie Fayard. Another consequence: we move less, limit contacts, meetings; The Internet has dematerialized the other, this stranger we will never meet… to whom it is easier to sell. With its Trëmma website, Emmaüs circumvents the trap of encouraging donation: we choose “with love”, we specify the instructions for use, the object or piece of furniture we want to donate, then we select the solidarity project that will benefit from its sale. This is then told to you, described, put into images, even video, and the beneficiaries are incorporated… Because basically the gift usually feeds off the link. And to last, you need something concrete!

The Success of Microdonations

Being offered to pay for your purchases with the highest euro to offer a few cents to associations: this solidarity rounding principle is increasingly popular among the French. Easy to use and financially painless, it raised almost €11 million in 2021, which was donated to social causes.

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