You are reading one of the 12 TRENDS FOR 2012. Read all 12 trends here »


For smart consumers, 'trading in' is the new buying in 2012.

It’s never been easier for consumers to unlock the value in past purchases.

Consumers have always resold large, durable goods like cars and houses; but in 2012, almost anything is ripe for resale, from electronics to clothes, and even experiences. Novel brand buy-backs, exchange schemes, online platforms and mobile marketplaces offer smart and convenient options for consumers keen to ‘trade in to trade up’, alleviate financial strains (double dips, anyone?), and/or quell environmental and ethical concerns.

Three drivers behind the RECOMMERCE phenomenon:

  • NEXTISM: Consumers will forever crave new and exciting experiences promised by the ‘next’.
  • STATUSPHERE: The growing status boost that comes from being savvy and shopping (environmentally) responsibly.
  • EXCUSUMPTION: Cash-strapped, recession-stricken consumers embracing creative solutions to spend less and still enjoy as many experiences and purchases as possible.

A few examples:

  • Decathlon, the French sports apparel and equipment store, launched Trocathlon for a week in October 2011. Stores bought back any used equipment in return for coupons valid for six months.

  • Already featured in ECO-CYCOLOGY, Patagonia's Common Threads Initiative is also an excellent example of RECOMMERCE. The US outdoor gear brand partnered with eBay in September 2011 to launch an official marketplace where customers could buy and sell used goods.
  • Levi's Singapore offered customers SGD 100 when they brought in their old jeans and bought a new pair: a SGD 50 discount and a further SGD 50 in vouchers.
  • US-based DealsGoRound allows users to resell and buy past Groupon, LivingSocial, and BuyWithMe deals.
  • Amazon Student released in August 2011, enables students to scan the barcodes of books, DVDs, games or electronics they own, and see the trade-in price. If accepted, a shipping label is generated, and the funds awarded as an Amazon gift card.
  • StubHub, the secondary ticket marketplace, added mobile ticket functionality to their app in August 2011, meaning that users can resell and buy tickets right at the event, even without access to a printer.

We actually have plenty more on RECOMMERCE for you: read our recent, dedicated RECOMMERCE Trend Briefing on this topic »