While second-hand goods shopping may date back to probably very old times, the known history of second-hand clothes shopping goes back to 1300s: It emerged as a means used by those who couldn’t afford expensive clothing but nevertheless wanted to dress elegantly. Today, we see that second-hand shopping has spread widely and hence has become an ever-growing market. The second-hand market that also touches upon the sustainability and simplicity trends that have emerged in America and Europe in recent years, is estimated to be worth US$ 25 billion in 2025 according to the report published by thredUP.
When we speak of second-hand goods, a wide range of products and sales channels come to mind. It is possible to include web sites such as Ebay and GittiGidiyor that operate as big retail stores where all kinds of products are sold, boutique web sites that focus on a particular object or product range or junk shops and antique shops located in certain neighborhoods under this topic.
With the development of online shopping, online platforms to buy and sell used goods is growing as well: letgo that has just been launched in Turkey is a mobile app where used goods can be sold. It promotes itself with the slogan “You can’t ditch it by throwing it away but it will be sold if you put it up for sale” and makes the sales process quite easy with the platform it created. letgo also shines out with its distinctive interface in our times when the shift from computers to mobiles is on the rise.
In addition to the web sites that carry all kinds of second-hand products, there also are those web sites such as Gardrops, Ortakdolap or Modacruz that focus mostly on second-hand clothes shopping.
When we have a look at the consumer aspect of the business, we see consumers with different motivations for second-hand shopping. Along with the ones who want to generate an income by disposing off the items that they find redundant, there also are those who turn towards this domain for emotional reasons.
The minimalist trend that has gained momentum with Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” upholds a philosophy of life that suggests a happier life with less. According to an article in Forbes magazine, this movement urged people to move in to smaller houses and to reduce the number of their belongings and clothes. Marie Kondo argues in her book that you should get rid of your belongings that don’t give you joy and happiness and keep only the ones that mean something to you and you have an emotional bond with. Consequently, this trend motivates people to release or donate what they have on hand.
There are various alternatives in numerous fields for those who want to donate their extra belongings: The clothing bins placed by the municipalities or online platforms such as esyapaylas.com or freecycle.com, where there are no sales taking place and are strictly for donation, brings those who want to give away their belongings with the ones who want to receive them.
There also is a bilateral situation with the buying aspect of the second-hand business.
The basic motivation for second-hand shopping in segments such as atomobiles, phones or electronic appliances is based on economic reasons. The price difference between used products and new products is a critical factor for the growth of these segments within the second-hand market. The founder of Greendust, a second-hand shopping platform, Hitendra Chaturvedi reflects that 120 second-hand vehicles are sold for every 100 new vehicles sold. The companies that see this potential are giving precedence to expanding and growing in this domain.
In addition to the consumers who buy second-hand goods for economic reasons, there is also a segment of consumers who does so for emotional reasons. The desire to find a specific product, to own a historic item or something that has a story behind it and the experience of shopping expedition itself are among the emotional motivations of people. There are consumers who liken the experience of shopping from vintage and antique shops to a treasure hunt or traveling into history. While at the same time, the possibility of finding popular brands at attainable prices and the joy of hunting for an unusual item at a jammed store or a web site bring the economic and emotional reasons for second-hand buying together.
We have conducted a research in order to determine what Turkish consumers think about second-hand buying and selling and identify their motivations. Our research comprised of 100 females and males who are 18-45 years of age, AB/C1/C2 SES and live in Istanbul.
When they were asked what they thought about putting second-hand goods up for sale, some of the interviewees said “it is fine in terms of recycling”, “it is a good thing if the items are in pristine condition” and “it is economically logical”. For others, putting second-hand goods up for sale is perceived as something that applies to people with low income (“it is logical especially for students”, “it is a good thing for the ones in need”). The number of interviewees who have a negative approach to selling second-hand items is quite low.
63% of the interviewees said that they knew platforms where second-hand goods are sold and purchased. The platforms that were mentioned, mostly online, are letgo, sahibinden.com, gittigidiyor.com, facebook second-hand groups, tradesmen and spot commodity sellers.
44% of the interviewees put second-hand products up for sale previously. Online platforms were mainly preferred (facebook, sahibinden, letgo) for this purpose. There are some, though low in number, who have put second-hand products up for sale through spot sellers, acquaintances or face to face.
The second-hand products that were put up for sale previously were mainly electronic appliances, major appliances and household goods. In addition to those, “caravan”, “generator”, “car”, “land” and “baby products” were mentioned.
The motivations behind putting second-hand goods up for sale can be classified under three titles as “model upgrading/changing/renewing”, “there is no need for it” and “need for money”.
Goods that were put up for second-hand sale/chosen for second-hand sale were the ones that would bring money, those that were discarded because it made no sense to hold on to them, non-stockable items, namely, electronic appliances (computers, TVs, phones), furniture, major appliances and cars. Apart from this, items that were used for a short period of time (baby products) were chosen to be put up for second-hand sale. There are some interviewees who think that it is not healthy to put personal items up for second-hand sale.
42% of the interviewees stated that they had heard about the aid campaigns organized by municipalities and social welfare institutions for donation of second-hand goods. Some of the campaigns that were heard or known of are“piggy bank campaign”, “recycle bins”, “charity collection after the earthquake” and “collection of toys, old items, clothes and books”.
43% of the interviewees stated that they had purchased second-hand goods before. When asked about their thoughts regarding buying second-hand goods, the answers received were “it is a good thing since it prevents waste” and “could be purchased if the item is in pristine condition”. On the other hand, there were some interviewees who attributed second-hand buying to economic insufficiency as was the case for second-hand selling, too. (“Could be possible when the budget is insufficient”, “could be possible if there is need”.) The are also those who don’t prefer second-hand buying, who don’t consider second-hand buying except for vehicles and the ones who don’t have trust in buying second-hand goods.
The platforms used for buying second-hand goods are mostly online (letgo, sahibinden.com). Tangible shops, second-hand clothing shops and spot sellers were mentioned as well, though at the very least.
Second-hand goods bought previously were listed as “electronic appliances such as phones and photo cameras”, “household goods”, “major appliances”, “car parts”, “vinyls”, “clothes”, “jewelry” and “watches”.
When asked about the reasons why they preferred to buy these items second-hand, the interviewees replied they preferred them because “the new ones were expensive” for electronic appliances, “they were going to be used for a short period of time” or “they didn’t want to buy them new since they were single” for major appliances and furniture and “they liked that they were worn” for clothing.
Although online platforms are mostly preferred for buying second-hand goods, tangible stores are also favored – in contrast to when selling second-hand goods – because of the trust factor and the importance of checking the item out prior to purchase.
The products that are preferred to be bought second-hand are electronic appliances for “being cheap” and “being clean”. Those who find it unnecessary to buy small appliances second-hand mostly prefer to buy products such as cars or household goods second-hand. Antiques and baby products are other items that are preferred to be bought second-hand (“antiques become more valuable and beautiful as time gores by”). When we take a general look at them all, non-personal products and goods other than clothes are preferred the most.
6% of the interviewees stated that they were shopping from second-hand clothing shops. Shirts, trousers, bags, jewelry, glasses and dresses are the items that are preferred the most.
8% of the interviewees said that they had bought antiques previously. “Grand Bazaar”, “letgo”, “Ferikoy antique market” are among where antiques were bought. Some of the motivations for buying antiques were listed as “having artistic value”, “designs not going old and free from trends” and “for collecting purposes”.
When we have a look at the research findings, we see that Turkish consumers, too, regard second-hand shopping in economic and emotional terms. With the technological developments and the emergence of apps that would smooth the way for second-hand buying and selling, we can observe the change in consumer behavior in advance and can’t wait to see how things will proceed.
In this period of change, we foresee that brands that correspond to not only the economic motivations but the emotional ones as well will make a difference within the second-hand market.