Is Refurbished the Future of Consumer Tech?

It seems we’ve reached saturation point for consumer tech in 2019.

New smartphone sales are slowing down. As prices for flagship products keep climbing up, consumers and businesses alike are becoming more and more hesitant to pour their hard-earned money on the latest electronics. Buying refurbished is fast becoming the new way to upgrade.

The Refurbished Market Sees A Strong Growth Rate

2017 was the year when we saw the emergence of the Galaxy S8, the S8 Note, the iPhone X and the Google Pixel 2 XL, among others. Individuals were still recovering from buying brand-new phones the year before, and thus began to consider refurbished units instead of brand-new models.

The Refurbished Smartphone tracker report by Counterpoint states that the market for refurbished phone rose 13 percent for 2017, or equivalent to 140 million products, which was greater than the growth for new phone sales.

Serge Verdoux, Back Market U.S. coordinator mentioned that the figure is closer to 22 percent. More than that, the website has discovered that the refurbished industry gained about 10 times as much sales as its Europe platform in the same span of time.

It’s Not Just Smartphones

Mobile phones aren’t the only devices enjoying a renaissance in the reuse market, but consumer tech goods in general as well. Experts and researchers have also found a similar trend in laptops and the PC segment, driven largely by corporations and startups, government offices and educational institutes who prefer refurbished due to its cheaper costs.

The refurbished tech trend is driven by consumer awareness. More people have become aware that there are refurbished variants of popular consumer goods, including digital cameras, TVs, kitchen and home appliances, wearables and more. Refurbished doesn’t mean that it’s broken, and standard checks and testing ensure they’re as good as their brand-new counterparts.

What’s Driving The Shift Towards Refurbished?

It’s easy to see that the most dominant factor driving the refurbished trend is the entry price of newer phone models coming out each year. As phones become more advanced and get more powerful hardware, manufacturers need to raise the price in order to stay profitable. With a refurbished alternative, consumers can save a significant amount of money and still get to buy the brand and product they want.

Newer companies filled in the demand for affordable devices with budget-friendly offerings. To compensate for the lower sales volume, manufacturers turned to selling refurbished consumer goods. On the other hand, increased environmental awareness from both sides (and as mandated by law) gave refurbished the “greener” option as there’s less e-waste produced by extending a devices’ lifespan. PCs, laptops and tablets were tagged as “refurbished” and sold faster than the new display items.

Significant Industry Changes

Major slowdown in the new phone market in Europe and the U.S. paved the way for the refurbished industry, with emerging markets in Asia, India and Africa being a close second. From there, major mobile networks, refurbished distributors and repair stores have started offering full life-cycle services on refurbished goods and digital products to help consumers get better value for their money.

Various take-back and recycling programs now make it easy for you to collect your old consumer tech goods and bring it in for perks and rewards. It’s not uncommon to get something back in the form of a gift card, discounts or trade-ins for the most popular goods, including TVs, appliances and tablets.

The leaders of the recycling and takeback programs include Apple GiveBack, Mobility by Motorola and Samsung Responsible Recycling. Consumers can get to authorized stores, hand in their old device and either get cash, discount or take-backs on same or different-brand products.

How the Growing Refurb Market Is Shaping the Future

Selling old consumer tech goods will become easier than ever. Instead of having to go through the process of listing their old phones and electronics on online marketplaces such as eBay, consumers can now head straight to where they bought the item and get a reasonable buyback offer. This helps offset the rising costs of newer tech and allows for better economic circulation.

Most consumers buy refurbished as they can get their laptops, tablets and other consumer devices for cheaper and save the environment in the process. For manufacturers, sales continue and brands continue to make profits.

IDC analysts predict that the refurbished market will gain greater momentum over the next five years by as much as $52 billion.

Refurbished Tech Benefits

Increased awareness, cost-driven purchases and high-quality, warranty-protected tech goods allow the consumer to choose refurbished over brand new, premium items. In the future, you can look forward to having many, if not all your favorite consumer appliances in both brand-new and refurbished prices.

Companies can save more without compromising business operations when they get their needed equipment, i.e., tablets, laptops and TVs at a reputable refurbished source. Buying refurbished saves the environment in a number of ways. Manufacturing impact will be slowed as lesser devices are produced, which in turn equals less greenhouse gas, fuel and water consumption. Refurbished products are a great way to reduce the amount of e-waste that fills our landfills each year.

Refurbished Is Here To Stay

There will always be a market for individuals who want nothing but the best and the latest consumer goods regardless of price. For the rest of us, open-box, pre-owned or “refurbished” presents a way to save more money without having to choose a lesser brand, model or quality.

Refurbished tech’s positive impact on the environment, the consumer and the manufacturer altogether ensures a win-win situation.

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Stewart McGrenary

Stewart is the Managing Director for Plunc.  Plunc is one of the UK’s leading tech recyclers, for consumers looking to sell their iPhones, iPads and countless other high end gadgets.

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