Gumtree Embraces The Circular Economy

Gumtree Embraces The Circular Economy

Gumtree has partnered with environmental foundation Planet Ark to provide customers with a more sustainable platform. Their aim is to help create a more circular economy.

Gumtree and Planet Ark announced their partnership in June 2021. It aims to promote a circular economy – a system that relies on rethinking the ways we use products and services for the benefit of society.

Rather than contributing to additional waste and pollution, the circular economy keeps products and materials in use and helps to regenerate natural systems.

In this system, waste and pollution are designed out, and products and materials are kept in use. Essentially, buying secondhand as opposed to something brand new helps create a circular economy.

Considering Gumtree is a platform that enables people to resell their goods, it seems like a natural progression for the marketplace. 

Amanda Behre, Gumtree Australia’s head of marketing, said: “Because of the secondhand stigma, we need to work with a like-minded partner that can help us evolve our narrative. They are a trusted environmental organisation, it really helps us validate our commitment (to sustainability) as a business.”

This partnership also speaks to the changes in consumer behaviour since the pandemic. Behre told B&T: “COVID really made Aussies think about not just how to save money but also how to consciously shop, how do I shop while not contributing to landfill?”

COVID-19 naturally created new consumer trends, even for an established platform like Gumtree, which has been around for over fourteen years. 

“We saw some interesting trends throughout all the phases of lockdown. At the beginning of lockdown, we had people who were hoarding toilet paper from supermarkets. This ended up on Gumtree and we took notes from consumers and banned those types of products; PPE, hand sanitisers, that sort of thing.”

“Once people were setting themselves up to work from home, we saw huge trends in desks and chairs and office equipment and gym equipment.”

“Towards the end of lockdown, we saw an increase in people buying surfboards and mountain bikes, and we saw an increase in services to hire in caravans and camper vans. If I think about consumer insights, we were at the forefront of it.” 

To celebrate its new partnership, Gumtree and Planet Ark came out with a Circular Economy report. The report directly examined the impact COVID-19 has had on Australians. It found that almost one in two (48 per cent) of Australians stated that the pandemic impacted their income in some way, with 34 per cent of Australians experiencing some sort of financial stress. 53 per cent were worried about their ability to pay for household expenses such as food, utility bills, internet, etc. 30 per cent were worried about their ability to pay for unexpected expenses.

The report also focused on the fact that if Australians embraced the circular economy, and by default a marketshare platform like Gumtree, they’d be able to make money. The report claimed that the average Australian stands to make approximately $5,300 ($5,286) per household from their unwanted items.

The report pointed out that 41 per cent of Australians are now more likely to sell items through the circular economy following the impact of COVID; a circular economy that Gumtree is championing. 

“I think when people think about buying or selling, there is a bit of a stigma about secondhand goods. Do people want to buy my stuff? 

“What we are saying is, try and think about the opportunity of the circular economy and less about the linear economy. The whole idea about the circular economy is keeping things in the cycle. If we can be a catalyst for change, then we are more than happy to be.”

 Unlike other businesses that have had to reconfigure their business models to become sustainable, Gumtree had all the foundations of sustainability before it became a buzzword. 

Gumtree always wanted its consumers to embrace a secondhand market, either buying or selling, and wanted consumers to lean away from always buying brand new. 

“The work we do around the secondhand economy has always been part of our DNA and part of our heart and soul,” explained Behre.

“We want you to rethink the way you purchase things. If you want to buy a specific item new, maybe sell something first, or maybe buy something second hand. I think if we can make that change, I think there’s value in promoting it is okay to sell your stuff. ”

Consumers are now catching up.

“We are seeing commentary from our consumers and yes wallet has always been important — how do I save money? But the community and the sustainability angle and saving items from landfill is really starting to resonate with customers.”

Of course, Gumtree is not the only marketplace platform, but Behre believes they have a point of difference from competitors like Facebook Marketplace. 

“I would say because people have grown up with Gumtree, it’s very purposeful if you come to the platform.

“It’s also about our work with Planet Ark, about being sustainable, empowering people with personal economic freedom.”

The most important advice Behre would give to consumers apprehensive about using a marketplace platform is simply this: “Firstly, I’d say get over the stigma of buying or selling secondhand.”

And, she might be right: it is better for the planet after all.

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