“If you don’t really need anything, don’t buy it — but if you do need to buy something, please buy the thing that’s durable,” — and preferably used, says Asha Agrawal, head of corporate development at Patagonia.
The retailer typically does not promote its products during the Cyber 5 holiday shopping period. That changed in 2022. Patagonia promoted Worn Wear, its online secondhand store, on Cyber Monday.
Patagonia has historically eschewed promoting its merchandise during the Cyber 5 period spanning Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday. Marketing is typically limited to its in-store repair services on Black Friday, Agrawal says.
“We’ve been anti-consumerist in that way,” Agrawal says. “But we chose to participate in Cyber Monday to say if you’re going to buy something, we will reward you for buying [used].”
On Cyber Monday (Nov. 28 this year), Patagonia.com redirected shoppers to the retailer’s Worn Wear website. Patagonia enticed shoppers with a 20% discount on anything purchased through its resale online store.
The event was a success, Agrawal says. Cyber Monday 2022 was the Worn Wear website’s second most popular web traffic day since the Worn Wear online store launched in 2020. In 2020, Patagonia.com shoppers could click on a button located on Patagonia’s main website landing page that led to the Worn Wear store. 2022’s strategy automatically redirected web traffic to Patagonia.com to www.wornwear.patagonia.com.
This year, 70% of all Worn Wear Cyber Monday online sales were from first-time customers, Agrawal says.
Patagonia ranks No. 205 in the Top 1000, Digital Commerce 360’s database of the largest e-retailers in North America.
Patagonia learns how shoppers search for second-hand merchandise
The retailer is tracking how many new customers are buying from its Worn Wear online store and how many will come back. That will be a long-term process, Agrawal says, as the retailer hopes consumers don’t need to buy new items for years.
“We’re not trying to have customers buy something every few months or even seasonally,” Agrawal says.
The goal, Agrawal says, is to have customers hold on to gear longer than they might with other resale programs. The average time that someone starts to sell something back to Patagonia is about five to seven years of use, she says.
Some questions Agrawal says Patagonia reviews include: How long are customers keeping our garments? What can we do to make sure they’re keeping it in good repair during that time? How many new customers are we getting?
Worn Wear items influence future product design
Agrawal says Patagonia also tries to understand what resale categories people are gravitating toward and why, versus which categories are less in demand.
“It’s fascinating data,” she says. Some items, like Patagonia outerwear jackets and rain gear, resell well, she says. Customers also “can’t get enough” of Patagonia’s bags, especially its black full bag.
“[These items] don’t stay very long on the website. But there are others that just don’t resell as well,” Agrawal says, without highlighting which ones. “We have to think about how to continue to be a responsible business. We want to build things that can have multiple owners — or, if it’s one owner that can [use] it throughout their whole lifetime, and hopefully, generationally after that.”
Patagonia aims to track what items are resold and how old those items are when they’re resold to Patagonia’s Worn Wear online store. If a product is repeatedly sent back for resale, that brings up questions to the design team, Agrawal says.
If a garment/product is returned well before the average five- to seven-year cycle, Agrawal says Patagonia might change the product’s design, or stop producing it altogether.
“We decide whether we will no longer make that SKU if it really only sells once since that’s not part of our brand value,” she says. “Or we wonder if we [designed] it a different way, whether it would be better for resale later.”
Based on this data, Patagonia alters its plans for future products.
“Bringing back that data to product design and actually thinking about circularity in different ways from design to resale and repair [is helpful],” Agrawal says.
Patagonia promotes gear repair
The same goes for repair requests. If certain items are frequently returned for repairs, the retailer reassesses what problems could be rectified during product design. Items sent in for repairs are completed at Patagonia’s Reno, Nevada, warehouse.
In September 2022, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard announced the company’s new ownership to two entities: Patagonia Purposes Trust and Holdfast Collective. Profit not reinvested back into Patagonia will be distributed as dividends to protect the planet, according to a release.
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