Companies and consumers are rediscovering thrift

Press image from HUI Research showing a neatly folded stack of clothes, the top item has a label attached showing the symbol for recycling.

writer icon Tormod Birch     HUI Research   |   Business     🕐 05. Dec. 2018

A trend is emerging on the high street and among startups, for making reusing and recycling commercially viable. As the generation of consumers is shifting, there is also a shift in what the consumer finds to be valuable.

While the majority of consumers today still seem to prefer new products than pre-owned, the vintage and secondhand markets are becoming popular again.

The problem with consumerism
One of the reasons for this is the environmental threat that consumerism currently poses. People are waking up to the reality of what happens to their clothes when they return them to an online retailer. Social media has become a platform for people to share views and promote causes, and as a result people are more informed than ever.

The startup scene is saturated with green-inspired entrepreneurs and companies that are aspiring to a more sustainable future. At the same time, large corporations are also looking to ways to appear, even to be, more environmentally conscious.

Online repair services
Repamera is a Malmo-based startup that provides repairs and alterations to clothes via an online service. They aim to take back the culture of repairs by making it easier for people to repair something than to buy new.

“I did market research on Facebook (…) 78% responded that they had damaged clothes that they actually wanted to use”,
 Founder Henning Gilbert told Sydsvenskan

Making it social
Repair Cafés are free meeting places where people get together and mend things. They are staffed by specialists who volunteer their time and skills. They are motivated by keeping items out of a landfill. Visitors to the Repair Café bring their broken articles and, together with a specialist, they learn how to fix it.

As people continue to recognise the value of the second life of products, this is being reflected in the marketing decisions of companies. Businesses big and small strive to appeal to this demand for sustainability.

Concern is justified
The fact remains, that the global waste levels are a cause for concern for many consumers.

The amount of waste generated around the world continues to rise. A huge amount of that waste ends up in a landfill or joins one of the ocean garbage patches, such as the Great Pacific garbage patch with is twice the size of Texas

In 2016, the World Bank reported that the world produced 2.01 billion tons of waste. They also predicted that this will reach 3.4 billion tons by 2050. 

Christmas is a time for repairing
It is therefore timely that this year the Swedish Retail Institute (HUI Research) has named the Christmas present for 2018 to be the recycled garment.

HUI Research has, since 1988, awarded Christmas Present of the Year to one special product. This award is an analysis of prevailing societal trends. It is also a reflection of the current or future consumer behaviour of Swedes.

“We are living in a time where the consumer wants to shop more sustainably, and the retail industry is meeting this with new alternatives”
, HUI Research stated in their motivation for this year’s award.

The motivation continued - “consumers expect to be informed of how goods are produced and they want to be able to make individual statements”.

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