Refurbished Handset Market

New research demonstrates the potential in the refurbished handset market

New research demonstrates the potential in the refurbished handset market

Mobile market analysis firm CCS Insight recently published a mobile phone buying survey of consumers in the UK and the US. The research focussed on more than 1,000 respondents in each country, making this one of the largest surveys of consumer attitudes to mobile devices.

The research showed a remarkable similarity between UK and US phone buyers when it came to their most recent mobile handset purchase. 89 per cent of US and 86 per cent of UK consumers had bought their most recent phone new. The second-hand market (such as eBay and other selling sites) made up 9 per cent of UK consumers and 5 per cent of those in the US. The refurbished market, meanwhile, made up only 5 per cent of purchases in the UK and the US. On initial reflection, this suggests that the refurbished handset market remains a consideration only for a small proportion of consumers.

A new opportunity that will grow

However, when it came to attitudes towards their next purchase, consumers demonstrated an entirely different point of view. 60 per cent of UK respondents confirmed that they would consider buying a refurbished phone the next time they made a handset purchase, while 56 per cent of those surveyed in the US stated the same. The price saving associated with a refurbished phone was the primary driver. Perhaps unsurprisingly, issues such as length of warranty and the ability to return the device were also front of mind for consumers looking to buy refurbished.

Two differentiated markets

The difference between the second-hand market and the refurbished one is an important one. The CCS Insight research considered second-hand as previously owned and then privately sold. Many of these devices would be sold “as seen” and unlikely to be subject to warranty or refund. Refurbished devices, on the other hand, have typically been returned to pristine condition and often come with a warranty. In some cases, refurbished devices may even have been returned unopened to a store or online retailer meaning they are completely unused.

It is encouraging that more than half of respondents to the CCS Survey in both the UK and the US were open to purchasing a refurbished phone. This shows the potential of the market, not only to provide people with a more affordable alternative to new devices but also to have a significant impact on reducing the volume of waste created by the mobile industry. Refurbished devices ensure that less electronic waste is created, reducing the volume of precious metals and other limited resources used by the industry.

Written by Dominic Strauli​, Device Recovery Manager, GSUK.

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