Let’s be honest, there’s nothing sexy about the word “secondhand.” Both secondhand and thrift shops conjure images of old shops, crammed with clothes and other miscellaneous items. That’s often why people prefer “mainstream” shopping, since it’s easy and customizable to fit your preferences. While the convenience is great, the impact on the environment is astonishing. Each year, 32 billion garments are produced for the US market alone, and of that 62% ends up in a landfill. It’s also estimated that 26 billion pounds of clothing end up in landfills each year. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, the fashion industry is the second-highest user of worldwide water and is responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions (sorry-not-sorry for ruining your shopping experience forever).
In 2008, James Reinhart saw an opportunity to reduce the impact the fashion industry has on the environment and launched thredUp, an online consignment and thrift store. ThredUp started by connecting sellers and buyers, but they quickly realized that in order to properly attract people to their site, they needed to be the ones doing the work. Now, thredUp handles all of the warehousing, inspection, photography, description, sales transaction, shipping and pricing, meaning all the “seller”has to do is send them their clothes. The company then redistributes the items, and gives the sellers a portion of the consignment sale price. thredUp removes any of the inconveniences of secondhand as their site is extremely well organized, sorting items by type, size, color, designer, etc. ThredUp’s “Choose Used” slogan has clearly made an impact as they have now redistributed over 65 million items of clothing and accessories.
Just like their modern approach to secondhand shopping, thredUp utilized content and influencer marketing to promote their brand and their mission. Of the 404 thought leaders we’ve picked up mentioning thredUp, approximately 69% are from YouTube. The rest of the breakdown is as follows:
YouTube: 6,625 mentions by 282 thought leaders
Podcasts: 244 mentions by 70 thought leaders,
Newsletters: 116 mentions by 37 thought leaders,
Blog Posts: 25 mentions by 15 thought leaders
ThredUp’s entry into the world of sponsored content started in 2017 with 92 thought leaders mentioning the brand, but seriously increased in 2019 as the number of thought leaders doubled to 180. The majority of thredUp’s sponsorships are in the lifestyle and food category, which can often be interchangeable. Even though these channels primarily relate to the general themes of lifestyle and food, there are a large portion that include content that incorporates some aspect of environmentalism and sustainability. Of all of the content that is tagged as being sponsored by thredUp, 285 pieces of content contain phrases related to sustainability including: environment, environmental, thrifting, sustainable, sustainability, and secondhand.
The mix of channels ensures that they aren’t limiting their audience just to those who label themselves as “environmentalist.” By doing this, they are able to gain exposure to different types of people who fall into their target demographic. Other trends that appear within their sponsorship history includethrifting, moms, and family channels. While the market is on its way to being oversaturated with DTC clothing brands, thredUp’s stance of consciousness over consumerism sets them apart from all of their competitors.
As the global pandemic rocked the economy, sending thousands into unemployment, the retail market took a massive hit. Unlike many of their more “mainstream” competitors, though, thredUp received many first time customers during this time. Consumers who were looking to be more money conscious turned to thredUp in order to find the brands they love without hurting their wallets. While there was already a surge in demand in the resale market before COVID-19, the pandemic highlighted the importance of this sector. The online secondhand market is estimated to grow by 27% in 2020, unlike the broader retail sector that is currently looking at a decrease of 27%. ThredUp’s modern approach to both thrifting and marketing has proven to be a big win for the company, the consumer, and, most importantly, the environment. The company clearly has an upward trajectory, and we expect to continue seeing sponsorships at the forefront of their growth strategy.