September 23, 2050. For his 18th birthday, Dylan Miran, the oldest in the family, unpacks, moves in, his birthday present: a new pair of shoes, the flashy white Adidas-3000s. “Your feet probably won’t grow anymore,” smiles his father Fabien, just as moved. Now you are an adult, you deserve some shoes of this category. This is the first time Dylan’s toes will know the shoes that no one but him has ever worn. Because in 2050, the second-hand market has prevailed, to the point of representing so many Sales that he new market.
Already, thirty years ago, the second hand was boomingwith a 12% increase in worldwide turnover per year, according to a study by Boston Consulting Group and Vestiaire Collective. Seven out of 10 French people bought second-hand clothes and vintage was, in 2021, the second favorite e-commerce site in the country.
“In 2050, the second hand will be a necessity, predicted Dominique Desjeux, an anthropologist specializing in consumption at the time*. Not only ecological sobriety requires fewer new purchases from 2022, but the global middle class is exploding, particularly in Porcelain and in India. And the supply will not be able to continue if it is based only on new products, unless we further overexploit natural resources”. Without really being an expert in demography or macroeconomics, our friend Fabien Miran can only observe: “Supply has dried up compared to demand, and new products come out in a few days with each launch. In my childhood, Westerners were the only ones to buy new products. Now, in all parts of the globe, the credit card comes out.
Discovering new ones has become a real business, testifies the father of the family: “I bought Adidas because you are only 18 years old once in your life, but there was a high price to pay and I had to reserve the product several months in advance.” connecting to the online store six hours before the launch of the presale. From now on, any new product seems like a limited edition of the time since there are potential buyers. »
Purchasing power, again and again
Because beyond ecological awareness and the scarcity of raw materials, the second-hand boom is also explained by the lower cost of products already in use. ” buying power it has always been the main reason for the success of second-hand items”, confirms Dominique Desjeux. Cécile Désaunay, director of studies for Futuribles in 2022*, places the reactivation of the second-hand market at the economic crisis of 2008 :: “With each crisis, the second hand increases. That is why in 2022 all the conditions were met for the market to skyrocket again: energy crisis, economic crisis, ecological crisis…”
The Milan family really has no choice: impossible to pay 600 euros for each pair of shoes, you have to go through the motions. Not everything is perfect, of course: the washing machine, also used, throws up the clothes more than it washes them. “Maybe we were a bit ambitious taking a 2015 machine. A new one would never have done that. But there are many advantages sometimes, defends the mother, Noémie. Look at my dress: it was customized by its previous owner, with hems here and there. Each object becomes unique. I was also able to find the coffee pot that my family had during my childhood! Cécile Désaunay agrees: “Second-hand allows for a much broader and more vintage offering, acclaimed by consumers. The objects are older or cannot be found in stores, giving an unprecedented range of products. Far from being despised, the second-hand market has become socially valued. »
Several lives and possibility of resale
An enthusiasm shared by Dylan, who gets on his bike to show off his new sneakers to his friends. “We bought this bike in Amsterdam. It’s already rolled thousands of times before I picked it up, I think it’s great for an item that has a passive and multiple lives.”
And that he is called to have others. “Then I would have an electric car. Used, of course. And since my bike is going to be of less use to me, I still earn a few cents with it”, plans the young man, fed up with buying and reselling. The same goes for his shoes. “I’m not fooled by her prices,” says Fabien. In three years, Dylan will be able to get another 300 euros. And inevitably, he increases the amount to spend to have them.
This practice was already widespread in 2022, particularly for the cars, remembers Philippe Moati, co-founder of the Consumer Observatory*: “Some brands were known for their good resale capacity at times, like BMWs, for example. The price of a new vehicle was therefore more expensive, since it included the possibility of reselling it at a good price. The sites listed the models most likely to be bought at a high price at times.” Already then, in 2020, Europeans had bought three times as many used cars as new cars.
And how not to mention the case of smartphones? One in five French people had already sold one in 2022. So in 2050, we sell m second-hand second-hand… In short, you get the idea. The iPhone 30 bought for 2,300 euros used by Fabien will still be worth 1,500 euros on resale.
The reappropriation of brands
and now they are the marks they themselves who drive resale of their products. Forget Vinted and others, neglected due to too many scams and poor quality of certain products. “The big brands are betting more and more on second-hand items,” said Philippe Moati thirty years ago. It’s too big a trend for them to ignore. The deal is simple: the consumer returns his item for a certain amount, and the store takes care of reselling it.
With objects that require a longer and longer useful life, in order to be able to serve various users over time, brands have thus revised their specifications. No more clothes whose fabric withers after five washes, the HS laptop after two years or the car that skids hard after 100,000 kilometers. Philippe Moati already imagined it: “With the rise of the second hand, it is possible that we will see in the future (today, therefore, in 2050) the manufacture of new objects that are much more qualitative and resistant”. What also shows white leg in terms of sobriety and redeems an ecological image. Far from the first smartphones, Fabien’s Iphone 30 has a twenty-year warranty. unplanned obsolescence.
What’s new, is it still hype?
The bike that Dylan rides is also a good example: it dates from 2015, and shared the journeys of an Argentine, a Japanese and a Dutch before belonging to the son Miran. Hence the joke, common among parents, that Fabien cannot help but make: “Nowadays, true old age is when you are not as young as the objects you use. »
After pedaling like crazy to join his friends, Dylan is bitter. Far from being amazed by his striking white Adidas 3000, his friends criticized him harshly: “Why did you buy a new garment, are you not well? “, “Have you thought about the planet? “, “How are you, the billionaire? the pack asks.
A behavior imagined by Vincent Chabault, sociologist of distribution and consumer society*: “The only way to see how second-hand imposes itself as the dominant market is a clear evolution of our value system, the only way of a transition ecological consumption. Therefore, the new would be discredited, stigmatized, seen as purely materialistic and harmful to the environment. »
But of course, even in this new world of 2050, the new has its place and its advantages: “To feed the second hand, at some point the first is necessarily needed,” the sociologist clearly recalls. A need that Fabien believes in, when he gets stuck in a traffic jam to pick up his son crying: “It’s 2050 and we haven’t invented the flying car yet! That’s the problem when all you do is buy old stuff: innovation is dead, all you do is recycle. “Which gives Dylan some comfort and makes her love his beautiful sneakers again.