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Second-hand: a second chance for the photo industry?

Reconditioned or used today second-hand is taking over. Does this change in purchasing habits signal a paradigm shift in our consumer society?

In the ever-changing world of technology, the photography sector is undergoing a significant transformation thanks to the emergence of recommerce. This trend, which involves buying and selling second-hand or refurbished products, has grown in popularity in recent years, offering consumers an economical and environmentally-friendly alternative to buying new equipment.

​​A revolution in photography

The photography recommerce market is booming, redefining the way photography enthusiasts buy, sell and trade their equipment. Photography-specific recommerce platforms such as MPB, the world’s largest platform for buying, selling and trading used photo and video equipment, facilitate the buying and selling of cameras, lenses and accessories, creating a dynamic marketplace where quality products find a second life.

MPB and Retail Economics’ landmark report, “Second-Hand, First Choice: The Psychology of Recommerce”, finds that a growing number of consumers are buying and selling second-hand products. Matt Barker, CEO of MPB, believes the report “demonstrates a fundamental shift in consumer behaviour and the nature of retail more generally”.

Image from MPB and Retail Economics benchmark report, "Second-Hand, First Choice: The Psychology of Recommerce" © MPB
Image from MPB and Retail Economics benchmark report, “Second-Hand, First Choice: The Psychology of Recommerce” © MPB

It’s clear that second-hand photography is more than just a trend. With the recommerce market forecast to grow by nearly 80% by 2028, it’s clear that this is an industry with enormous growth potential, and one that echoes the values and preferences of many consumers.

By offering quality products at affordable prices, while promoting sustainability and accessibility, MPB is positioned at the heart of this revolution. Founded in 2011, the platform is redefining consumer norms and opening up new perspectives for photography enthusiasts worldwide. MPB has become an essential reference in the field of photographic recommerce, offering its users a transparent and secure buying and selling experience.

A new environmental conscience

In an era dominated by programmed obsolescence, the consumer is constantly driven to overconsumption. By positioning itself in the opposite direction to overconsumption, the second-hand market raises awareness of the lifespan of products. For many, the desire to consume better is part of an eco-responsible approach coupled with a desire to get a good deal. 

By reusing existing equipment rather than buying new, consumers are helping to reduce demand on natural resources and minimize electronic waste. This approach is part of a circular economy, where products are repaired, reused and recycled, promoting sustainability and resource conservation.

Cheaper and more ethical, resale platforms represent a new mode of distribution on a par with the major retailers. It seems, however, that the circular economy is still far from overtaking the world of the linear economy. Rather, it appears to be an alternative movement.

© Jerry Zhang
© Jerry Zhang
Canon EOS R + Canon Rf 35mm © MPB

New audiences and new challenges

Once favored by bargain hunters and low-income households, these consumption practices are now being adopted by individuals of all ages and socio-professional categories. By tending towards the second-hand, the digital industry is capturing a new and ever-wider audience. For example, millennials are helping to drive the second-hand trend, with 84% of participation in the second-hand market, as are higher-income households.

While these figures challenge the stereotype that second-hand is favored only by those with limited budgets, the recommerce trend has been boosted by the global covid crisis. On the one hand, this is due to the development of a growing number of online platforms, and on the other, to the explosion of mobile applications. A veritable digital revolution, combined with a decline in purchasing power due to the cost of living and economic uncertainty. More than half of consumers said that cost savings were the main motivating factor, with sustainability concerns in second place.

Image from MPB and Retail Economics benchmark report, "Second-Hand, First Choice: The Psychology of Recommerce" © MPB
Image from MPB and Retail Economics benchmark report, “Second-Hand, First Choice: The Psychology of Recommerce” © MPB

The recommerce market also stimulates innovation by making cutting-edge photographic technology more accessible to a greater number of people. By offering affordable options for the purchase of high-end equipment, it encourages experimentation and creativity among amateur and professional photographers alike. What’s more, recommerce platforms play a crucial role in providing detailed information on product condition, guaranteeing the quality and reliability of the equipment sold.

Despite its many advantages, the photography recommerce market is not without its challenges. Fierce competition between online platforms and individual sellers can make it difficult to differentiate offerings. Aware of these challenges, Matt Barker affirms MPB’s fair dynamic pricing system, ensuring that “buyers and sellers transact with confidence, fair prices and guaranteed quality, in a way that has never been possible before”. 

With used models on average a third cheaper than the same model new, MPB offers an impressive selection of Nikon lenses and Canon cameras, as well as a wide range of photographic accessories, such as tripods, camera bags camera bags, filters and batteries

For amateurs and enthusiasts alike, renewing equipment is becoming more affordable and accessible. This evolution in purchasing habits is a clear sign of a new model of sustainable and ethical consumption for future generations.


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