The resale market is booming. Despite steady growth over the last decade, demand for pre-owned goods accelerated over the past two years. The U.S. resale market is expected to double by 2026, 16x faster than the traditional retail market.
Outdoor brands have seen even more growth in branded resale as a channel. When Acr’teryx launched Used Gear in 2019, it saw thousands of units traded within the first six months. The brand doubled the number of trade-ins the following year.
While more people turned to the outdoors during the pandemic, the outdoor resale market isn’t slowing down. In its 2021 earnings report, REI reported 86% revenue growth for its resale business compared to the previous year.
For outdoor retailers, resale as a channel creates a more inclusive and sustainable business model that resonates with customers. With branded recommerce, retailers can strengthen brand equity and reinforce brand values.
Why there’s sustainable growth in branded resale
Climate-conscious consumers demand it
Conscious consumerism is on the rise across categories. A recent study found that 55% of Americans will only buy from brands that make an effort to be sustainable.
In the outdoor industry, sustainability is even more critical for consumers. Outdoor enthusiasts are likely more conscious about their consumer footprint and how it impacts the environment.
While retailers across the industry have made a commitment to climate action, consumers are wary of greenwashing. Branded resale is an opportunity for outdoor brands to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and provide eco-friendly choices for customers.
Make unaffordable brands accessible to new customers
For many outdoor enthusiasts, the cost of gear can be a deterrent. Resale as a channel lowers the barrier to entry, especially for higher-end outdoor brands like Arc’teryx.
Resale programs also drive customer acquisition among younger consumers. Last year, 80% of Gen Z consumers purchased pre-worn goods. The group also accounted for the largest generational category of new sellers.
Through resale, outdoor brands can make expensive gear more accessible to customers. It also allows brands to capture and grow with younger consumers who may not be able to purchase gear at full price.
Encourage brand loyalty and in-store foot traffic
Branded recommerce drives customer engagement and brand loyalty online and offline.
Trove’s Business Analytics Dashboard shows that consumers who engage with a brand’s resale channel are more likely to return. Arc’teryx saw 20% of customers trade in items more than once in the first year and a half of operation. More than 20% of customers who bought pre-owned items with the brand did so again.
Outdoor brands often place a high value on durability. Resale as a channel is an opportunity to reinforce a brand’s value proposition. Pre-owned gear can help showcase and extend a product’s life.
With branded recommerce, outdoor retailers can also drive in-store foot traffic. At the start of 2022, REI pledged to expand its Re/Supply program to all stores after seeing significant traffic the previous year. Last year Arc’teryx opened its first ReBird service center in its newest New York City location. The store offers cleaning, repair, and resale of pre-worn items.
By powering the circular journey, retailers can provide customers with an experience that they will be proud to share. Branded resale encourages customers to connect and continue a pre-loved garment’s story.
Outdoor brands leading the charge with resale
The outdoor industry has played a vital role in driving circularity. Here are five brands leading the charge with branded resale as a channel.
Patagonia launched its Worn Wear trade-in system in April 2017. The program offers customers the ability to repair and recycle gear. Customers can also trade in pre-owned products online or at any Patagonia store and receive a credit toward new or used items.
Patagonia estimates that resale extends a product’s life by at least two years. The brand also encourages customers to share their garments’ stories and features the journey of pre-owned garments on its blog “The Stories We Wear .”
Arc’teryx’s ReBird initiative is about keeping “great gear in action.” Customers can trade in eligible gear in-store or online and receive 20% of the original price as a gift card.
Through ReBird, Arc’teryx extends a product’s life and attracts new customers at lower prices. The brand also sees ReBird as an opportunity for customer education by sharing videos on how to clean and care for its garments. Since launching in 2019, ReBird has given 9,970 pounds of pre-owned gear new life.
For REI, purchasing pre-owned goods avoids carbon emissions of 50% or more and ensures customers “don’t waste a thing.” Through the Re/Supply program, REI’s customers can swap lightly-used gear for credit. Customers can choose to mail in or drop off their items in stores and receive a gift card. The program now includes rental shops in REI stores to accommodate additional demand.
Cotopaxi was founded in 2014 with a mission to create “Gear for Good.” The socially and environmentally conscious brand makes durable and ethical outdoor gear.
As part of its “Guaranteed for Good” promise, Cotopaxi offers repair and trade-in options to extend the life of its products. Customers can receive a trade-in estimate online and request a kit to send in pre-worn gear. Customers can also shop the brand’s RePurpose Collection, which uses remnant fabrics from other companies’ production runs.
Outdoor gear brand NEMO is on a mission to “Adventure Forever.” The brand became Climate Neutral Certified in 2022 and has pledged to reduce emissions in half by 2030.
As part of its sustainability goals, NEMO launched its trade-in program in 2021 in partnership with Trove, Cotopaxi, and REI. Customers can receive a trade-in estimate on the brand’s website and request a trade-in kit.
Tap into sustainable growth with Trove
Trove is an all-in-one platform for branded resale. Trove powers the technology, operations, and analytics to enable retailers to create and scale a recommerce channel.
While resale as a channel can create logistical challenges, Trove’s white-label solution transforms complex logistics into a positive customer experience.
Discover how our white-label platform helps outdoor brands such as Patagonia, REI, and Arc’teryx deliver an authentic resale experience for customers.