Used bags and expensive watches are increasingly being sold online.
The second-hand luxury goods business is on the rise. The growth is now stronger than for new luxury products. Used luxury goods are particularly popular with younger generations. That is why various Swiss and international suppliers want to gain market share in the watch, jewellery, leather goods and fashion sectors.
“We’ve seen double-digit sales growth in the luxury segment in recent years,” said Tirath Kamdar, head of eBay’s luxury division, in an interview with news agency AWP. The US giant has invested in authentication systems for the products resold on the online trading platform in recent years.
Switzerland is a procurement market
This increased customer trust and the transaction volume. “This shows that we are moving in the right direction,” says the manager. After Ebay lost market share in online trading to its competitor Amazon in recent years, the company is trying to strengthen its core business, i.e. the sale of second-hand items, especially in the luxury goods sector.
In order to raise its profile, the American group has recently started supporting events in the luxury sector, also in Switzerland. These include Reluxury, the first Swiss trade fair for second-hand luxury goods.
“Switzerland is primarily a procurement market, since many watch brands have their headquarters here,” says eBay manager Kamdar. Because cooperation with the watch industry is important, as the second-hand market is growing rapidly.
According to the “Luxury Outlook 2022” study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and the French luxury goods association Comité Colbert, the second-hand business is growing twice as fast as the market for new luxury goods. The global market volume in the second-hand sector will increase from 33 billion euros in 2021 to an estimated 50 billion euros by 2025. The engines of growth here are the younger generations.
A market of 35 billion francs
Ebay works with Watchfinder, among others, which specializes in the online sale of high-quality used watches and belongs to the Geneva-based luxury goods group Richemont. Watchfinder has recently started selling products on Ebay. At the moment, the partnership extends to Germany and Great Britain, says Kamdar.
The US competitor Watchbox, which also specializes in the sale of second-hand luxury watches, is also very confident: “We are seeing fantastic growth and have been profitable from the start,” says Switzerland boss Patrik Hoffmann.
According to the consulting firm Deloitte, the market for pre-owned luxury watches was estimated at around 20 billion francs in 2021 and is expected to grow to around 35 billion by 2030. This would account for more than half of the new luxury watch market. The used sector has become more professional in recent years, particularly due to the introduction of guarantee systems (Certified Pre-Owned, COP).
$30,000 per watch
The average price for the Watchbox, which specializes primarily in niche brands, is $30,000 per watch. That is significantly higher than the competition. Due to its success, the US company took over the French-speaking Swiss luxury watch manufacturer De Bethune based in L’Auberson in Vaud last year.
The significant drop in prices for some well-known brands such as Rolex this summer on the second-hand platforms is a market adjustment, says Watchbox Switzerland boss Hoffmann. There is a certain normalization after the price records for some brands.
“Despite this drastic drop, the price of some well-known brands is still two to two and a half times the price of a new model in the store.” The industry is healthy, emphasized Hoffmann.
Market is in its infancy
The second-hand market for luxury watches is still in its infancy. Despite the turbulence of last summer, the upward trend continues, said the Watchbox Switzerland boss. Acceptance of the used market by the entire Swiss watch industry is increasing. No brand manager can afford the luxury of ignoring this sector as in the past.
After the market was initially dominated by independent companies reselling luxury goods from big houses, the big corporations are beginning to understand the importance of this segment. They now offer to buy back or sell old collections on their own websites or through partners.
Rolex’s announcement last week of entering the certified pre-owned watch (CPO) market was seen as a historic move for the industry. This is further proof of the growing importance of the second-hand market. (SDA/pbe)