UK, US, and French luxe consumers embrace secondhand - Altiant report

today Jan 3, 2020
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Luxury consumers are embracing the concept of resale and only a tiny 16% feel there’s a stigma in wearing pre-owned items. That’s according to a study conducted among 400 affluent consumers in the UK, US and France by luxury sector researcher Altiant.

Vestiaire Collective is one of the resale sites taking advantage of a new attitude to secondhand among luxury consumers - Vestiaire Collective

It said the concept of ownership, “once at the centre point of luxury consumption, has evolved from owning luxury to experiencing luxury ownership”. 

That means consignment stores, rental or subscription models, while not being completely new, are seeing a sharp rise, supported by technology and a new attitude on the part of consumers.

The study showed that one in five wealthy consumers has rented a luxury product within the past year and 43% of luxury consumers are willing to pay more than 5% of the recommended retail price to rent a luxury item for four days. 

In fact, 39% of renters say they actually prefer to rent than buy as they believe it reduces their environmental impact.

There remains some residual feeling that secondhand is second best however — that 16% who see secondhand as having a stigma attached being a good example. And 34% of these consumers think that luxury brands at lower prices (because they’re secondhand or rentable) makes them less desirable. Interestingly, this rises to 41% for French affluent and high net worth consumers.

That said, many consumers (57%) say the idea of being able to try different luxury brands for short periods of time is the main enticement for them to try rental options, although 61% are concerned about cleanliness of the items.

There’s clearly an opportunity for brands in rental/resale as 64% of those surveyed would like to access such goods from luxury brands’ own stores and 55% from their websites. A smaller 36% would go to resale specialist sites (36%). 

These consumers are aware that their own shopping habits aren’t always as sustainable as they could be, 51% saying they have unused clothing sat in their wardrobes, rising to 66% among French panellists.

And it’s interesting too that wealthy Millennials are perhaps more likely than the over-40s to have items sitting loved-but-unworn at home. They’re more likely to view luxury goods as worthwhile investment pieces (81% vs 68%) and to actually like ‘collecting’ luxury products (76% vs 57%).

Meanwhile, although fast fashion is criticised for the ‘wear once’ mentality and many mass-market fast fashion firms suffer from ‘one wear & return’ issues, this problem is also happening at the luxury level. Some 14% of respondents admitted being guilty of ‘one wear & return’, rising to one in five Americans. 

The study suggested that rentals “can be a great way to alleviate this and promote the ongoing use of luxury goods well beyond the first few occasions”.

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