Retail in Asia


1 in 4 global consumers now buy secondhand goods, APAC among regions dominating the market

In a bid to combat the rising cost of living and embrace sustainability, consumers in the Asia Pacific region are increasingly turning to repairing and recycling products, according to a recent survey by Euromonitor International.

SEE ALSO: Value-hacking and emphasis on regional identity paramount to the Asian consumer in 2024

The survey, titled “Voice of the Consumer: Sustainability Survey 2023,” revealed that 24 percent of global consumers actively choose to purchase secondhand products, aiming to lead a more environmentally conscious lifestyle.

Furthermore, 41 percent of respondents said they now opt to repair broken items instead of buying new ones, suggesting a shift away from throwaway culture.

Jorge Zuniga, a senior sustainability insights consultant at Euromonitor, emphasises that economic pressures are driving these behaviours.

With the cost of living on the rise, individuals are seeking practical solutions. Actions such as reducing food waste, utilising more fuel-efficient transportation options, and embracing secondhand shopping are helping consumers save money while adopting more sustainable practices.

The trend of secondhand shopping is particularly prominent among younger generations

Over 40 percent of Gen Z and Millennial consumers engage in secondhand shopping every few months, according to the survey.

Younger generations choose to repair items and shop secondhand mainly due to costs. As Gen Z are now the most financially pressured, secondhand is a great way to get stylish and buy even premium garments at reasonable prices,” Zuniga notes.

Vestiaire Collective, an online marketplace for pre-loved goods, is launching new initiatives, including a partnership that curated iconic pieces from designers such as Phoebe Philo. Source: Vestiaire Collective

More than half of consumers aged between 15 and 44 said they plan to purchase a secondhand item in the near future, indicating a growing preference for sustainable alternatives.

Asia in particular has seen a growing number of players entering the resale market in the last decade, such as childrenswear platform Retykle, founded in Hong Kong in 2016, and luxury fashion site Vestiaire Collective, which has offices in Hong Kong, Singapore and Seoul.

Singapore-founded Carousell, a multi-category platform for secondhand items in Greater Southeast Asia announced in its 2023 impact report that its user community avoided 116,577 tonnes of carbon emissions in four goods categories (Fashion & Luxury, Electronics, Furniture & Home Living and Hobbies & Toys) in 2022.

As the Asia Pacific region continues to dominate the repair and recycling market, consumers are shedding any stigma associated with buying secondhand goods.

SEE ALSO: Singapore, Hong Kong among ‘most globally connected’ markets, according to a new report

Instead, they view it as a practical and eco-friendly approach to extending the lifespan of products and contributing to a more sustainable world.

Some 31 percent of consumers in North America, 36 percent in Europe and Asia Pacific and 40 percent in Latin America choose a zero-waste lifestyle. The Philippines is the country with the highest percentage (56 percent) of ‘zero wasters’ in 2023, as 76 percent of respondents indicated concern about climate change.