Summary

The refurbished smartphone market, particularly in France, is experiencing significant growth, expanding by 15-20% annually. In 2020, refurbished smartphone sales in France hit 3.5 million units, reflecting the market's positive trajectory propelled by factors such as cost-effectiveness, with prices generally 30-50% lower than new phones, and environmental consciousness, as buying refurbished reduces electronic waste. The French unicorn Back Market has emerged as a global leader in this sector, indicating the country's prominent role in the market. Globally, the market size surpassed US$50 billion in 2021, with projections to triple by 2030 at an 11.45% annual growth rate. The Covid-19 crisis further stimulated demand, with a French study showing 60% willingness to buy refurbished phones in 2020.

Despite these trends, the market faces challenges in sourcing devices for refurbishment and ensuring consumer trust due to concerns over product quality and the origin of components, with reconditioning margins remaining relatively low at 15-20%. In response to these issues and to bolster the circular economy, new French regulations now dictate the use of terms like "reconditioned" and provide financial support to compliant players.

French Market Dynamics for Refurbished Smartphones

In the French market, the appetite for refurbished smartphones is escalating, buoyed by a compound annual growth rate projecting the global market to potentially expand threefold by 2030. The French market is not isolated from this trend; in fact, it has seen remarkable growth, particularly fostered by the prominent French company Back Market, which has established itself as an industry titan. In 2020, while over 20 million new smartphones were sold in France, the sale of refurbished counterparts stood between 3 and 4 million. These figures are not only reflective of a significant market uptake but also highlight a burgeoning segment that is growing by between 15 and 20 percent annually.

Financial advantages are a strong driver of this market, particularly as consumers are able to make savings of between 20 and 50 percent, and sometimes up to 80 percent, through the purchase of high-tech, high-quality refurbished smartphones. The average price of a new smartphone, sitting at approximately 446 euros, further nudges consumers towards the more budget-friendly refurbished options, whose average prices were around 279 euros in 2021. Beyond economics, environmental concerns and the burgeoning circular economy are compelling reasons for the French consumer's pivot towards refurbished goods. A remarkable 27 percent of purchasers cite ecological impact as a motive, with the replacement of a new phone with a refurbished model potentially slashing carbon footprints by between 55 and 91 percent.

The French market has also been shaped by the COVID-19 crisis, which stimulated the growth of online sales that, unsurprisingly, have become the dominant avenue for refurbished device purchases. Indeed, an overwhelming majority of the French people—nearly 80 percent—prefer online shopping, a trend that has been well embraced by resale platforms. Despite the enticing growth and positive consumer attitudes, some challenges remain, notably in sourcing devices for reconditioning and navigating relatively low margins.

Additionally, the recent implementation of regulations seeks to establish concrete definitions for the term "reconditioned product" and sets forth conditions aimed at ensuring consumer trust. In sum, while barriers such as disinterest and skepticism over product quality deter a fraction of the potential market, the generally robust demand for refurbished smartphones in France is characterized by consumers chasing value for money and environmental responsibility.

With such factors, the French market in refurbished smartphones is poised to continue on its path of growth and innovation.

Prominent Figures Shaping the French Refurbished Smartphone Market

In the dynamic and rapidly evolving French refurbished smartphone market, several key players stand out, each carving their niche and contributing to the sector's growth. These entities vary from specialized refurbishers to e-commerce giants and manufacturers, all playing a vital role in shaping consumer trends and influencing the market direction.

  • Largo is best known for its comprehensive value chain integration. Largo does not just sell refurbished smartphones; it takes charge of the entire lifecycle of a device. From collection to inspection and all the way through to repair, packaging, sales, and after-sales service, Largo is a one-stop shop in the truest sense, ensuring a consistent quality standard across all processes.

 

  • In a similar vein, Smaaart and Yes Yes exemplify how companies can flourish by managing each step of the refurbishment process. Their commitment to this end-to-end control allows for maintaining a high bar for device quality and consumer trust.

 

  • Certideal distinguishes itself with a focus on premium refurbished electronics. With its rigorous testing protocols and quality assurance processes, Certideal has managed to gain a reputation for delivering devices that meet a high standard of functionality and reliability.

 

  • Recommerce has arguably become synonymous with refurbished smartphones in France. As a pioneer in the field, its approaches to sustainability and value recovery have garnered attention, setting trends that many in the industry follow.

 

  • BackMarket, although a more recent entrant, has taken the market by storm and holds the status of a unicorn company. Rather than directly refurbishing devices, BackMarket operates as a marketplace, bringing together sellers and consumers. Its platform provides a wide variety of choices and competitive pricing, all while ensuring that the sellers meet certain quality standards.

 

  • Agora Place takes a slightly different approach, carving out space within the marketplace model. Its emphasis on business-to-business transactions allows it to cater to a specific segment of the market that seeks bulk purchasing and reliability for commercial needs.

Dominant retail players like Fnac-Darty, Cdiscount (via Cdiscount Occasion), and Boulanger (via 2nd Life) leverage their existing e-commerce infrastructure to offer a range of refurbished smartphones to their vast customer base. Their move into the refurbished market shows the sector's potential to established retailers and how they can provide a reliable alternative to traditional new-device sales.

Finally, Apple itself has entered the fray with its range of certified pre-owned devices. 

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  • Number of pages : 30 pages
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  • Last update : 26/12/2022
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Summary and extracts

1 Market overview

1.1 Definition and presentation

The refurbished smartphone market refers to all economic activity relating to the resale of refurbished smartphones in France.

A refurbished smartphone is a product that has been unpacked, even used for a period of time, then returned or resold to a professional. The smartphone is then checked, repaired, sometimes unlocked (to enable it to be used with a new mobile operator) and guaranteed by a factory specialized in reconditioning, before being put back on the market, often at advantageous prices.

While 1.4 billion new smartphones are sold worldwide every year, in France in 2020 20 million were sold, compared with 3.5 million refurbished smartphones. The refurbished smartphone market is growing by 15-20% a year, for a number of reasons.

The first is that buyers are able to purchase high-tech smartphones at lower prices than on the new market. Secondly, players in the refurbished market claim to be an eco-responsible solution: indeed, buying refurbished or reselling a device bought new to give it a second life limits electronic waste and encourages second-hand.

In recent years, the French Tech community has become aware of a French player that has become a key player in the global refurbished market: this is the French unicorn Backmarket, a company founded in 2014 and valued in 2022 at over 5 billion euros.

1.2 The global refurbished smartphone market

The global market for refurbished smartphones is growing rapidly, and is set to continue to do so over the next decade. According to Globe News Wire, the market size exceeded US$** billion in **** and could triple by ****, growing at +**.**% per year.

sales trends in the refurbished smartphone market World, ****-****, US$ ...

1.3 The French market

The refurbished phone market in France is booming, so much so that the dynamic has given international stature to French companies, including the world leader in refurbished phones, Back Market. With sales of *** million euros by ****, and growth of **%, the phones segment is the most buoyant in the sector[***].

Refurbished phone ...

1.4 A consumption pattern stimulated by the Covid-19 crisis

The health crisis has accelerated the growth of the refurbished phone market. According to an Ifop study, **% of French people were ready to buy a refurbished phone in October ****, if they hadn't already done so (***). Among this target population, **% say they are consuming more responsibly since the start of the health ...

2 Demand analysis

2.1 Price excitement

The boom in refurbishing is primarily due to the appeal of low prices (***), for a "like-new" product. This discount explains the strong growth in sales of refurbished phones, up to +**% in some years, while sales of new phones have been falling for several years.

evolution of new and refurbished phone sales France, ...

2.2 Environmental concerns and the rise of the circular economy

Ecology is often put forward as a motivation to turn to the refurbishing market: **% of buyers say they want to " do something for the planet " [***].

While the digital sector accounts for *.*% of global greenhouse gas emissions, Ademe and Arcept have calculated that buying a refurbished phone instead of a new one ...

2.3 Internet purchasing is preferred

Internetis the preferred way for French people to buy refurbished smartphones. In the wake of the health crisis,**% of French peoplesay they prefer the Internet to make their purchases, a trend up +* points [***].

How often the French buy online France, ****, in Source: ****

However, operators are also banking on supermarkets, since physical ...

2.4 Barriers to purchase

While **% of French people have opted for refurbished products, this is not the case for the remaining **%. The first reason, cited by **% of those surveyed, is disinterest, or lack of second-hand goods. More worryingly, the second reason, cited by **% of those surveyed, was a lack of confidence in the quality of ...

3 Market structure

3.1 Reconditioning stages

The table below gives an overview of the various stages in the reconditioning process:

Source: ****

However, the process will depend on the condition of the devices recovered. In some cases, when the product is almost new, reconditioning is limited to repackaging[***].

The reconditioning process is shaping up as a veritable industry, ...

3.2 A difficult supply of products for reconditioning

While the refurbished sector is developing rapidly, one of the major obstacles to its deployment is the scarcity of appliances and parts for refurbishing.

As far as devices are concerned, they are recovered in a variety of ways, as the previous section reminds us. However, a major source of phones for ...

3.3 Low margins

While the market is booming, refurbishers are struggling to remain profitable. Their margins are between **% and **%. Benoit Varin, co-founder of Recommerce, explains that his company, with a barely positive EBITDA, is barely breaking even, while its competitors are often making losses. Competition on the market is squeezing prices, especially as many ...

4 Offer analysis

4.1 A purchase price reduction of between 20% and 50%

The purchase of a reconditioned electronic device allows you to acquire an almostnew product at a reduced price, between -** and -**%,and up to -**% in some cases. In the case of smartphonesthe iPhoneis the most popular product on this market. There are also the latest models, as well as ...

4.2 The Green Tech craze in the business world

The digital footprint is responsible for *-**% of greenhouse gas emissions in France. That's why the French government is betting on the development of GreenTech, a movement in which repackaging fits in: the government has announced a *** million euro plan to develop GreenTech in ****. [***]

In ****, France counted *,*** Greentechs, with sales of ...

5 Regulations

5.1 Very recent regulations

With the rise of the circular economy and trends towards second-hand and repair, a whole area of the law is evolving, to give rise to new regulations.the February **, **** law on the fight against waste and the circular economy provides for a decree whose aim will be to delimit the right ...

5.2 Standards in force

Companies in the sector may wish to comply with a number of international standards to guarantee the consumer of the quality of their work and thus gain their trust. Compliance with the following standards may be of interest:

The American R*:**** standard (***): recyclers of electronic equipment can thus demonstrate their concern ...

6 Positioning the players

6.1 Player segmentation

The remanufacturing sector is still in its infancy, and the players in it are therefore evolving according to a sometimes blurredpositioning. Refurbishers in the strict sense of the term are players who integrateall the stages involved in refurbishingof computer hardware: collection, inspection, repair, packaging, sale and after-sales service. We propose the ...

List of charts

  • Sales trends in the refurbished smartphone market
  • Refurbished phone market
  • Changes in post-Covid perceptions among French consumers of refurbished phones
  • Sales of new and refurbished phones
  • Average smartphone price trend
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Latest news

Cordon Group tries to revive its business in Pas-de-Calais - 20/11/2023
  • Cordon Group is a French electronics repair specialist.
  • The company has an SBE plant in Saint-Léonard, Pas-de-Calais, which was affected by flooding. The Saint-Léonard plant employs 400 people.
  • Cordon Group has a total of 4,000 employees. The company generated sales of 380 million euros.
  • The company recently acquired SBE, a specialist in the repair of hi-tech equipment.
  • Following this acquisition, Cordon Group has become the French leader in after-sales service for electronic products.
  • Cordon Group holds between 10% and 15% of the smartphone repair market.
Cdiscount, the French champion that must change its business model in the midst of the Casino storm - 17/11/2023
  • Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky and Casinotake over French e-commerce champion
  • In the third quarter, sales volume plunged by 13.5% year-on-year, to 667 million euros, and direct sales (products bought and resold by the site, as opposed to sales by third-party merchants present on its marketplace) by 35%.
  • At the end of the first half-year, Cdiscount posted a net loss of 47 million euros
  • The marketplace hosts third-party merchants, charges a commission of 7% to 15% on each order, and sells logistics services and advertising.
  • Cdiscount relies entirely on its marketplace.
  • The marketplace generates 63% of business volume, compared with 55% a year ago. The aim is to reach 70%. This is the model used by Polish e-tailer Allegro.
  • Cdiscount ranks sixth among the most visited sites.
  • The 1,600 third-party merchants maintain a broad offering of 80 million items.
  • Revenues from subsidiary Octopia, Mirakl's competitor which sells solutions for creating marketplaces, rose by 54%
  • The C-Logistics subsidiary increased its number of external customers by a factor of 6.
Online commerce: French websites threatened by new rivals - 17/11/2023
  • Cdiscount is now in sixth position among the most visited e-commerce sites according to the Médiamétrie barometer.
  • FNAC is in ninth place among the most visited e-commerce sites.
  • E.Leclerc is now in fifth place and Carrefour in eighth.
  • The Chinese sites Shein, Temu and AliExpress enter and approach the Top 10 with ranks of 10th, 11th and 12th respectively.
  • Online sales are up 30% on 2019, according to the Fédération de l'e-commerce et de la vente à distance (Fevad).
  • FNAC Darty's figures show a 1.8% drop in online and in-store sales over the first nine months of the year.
  • Companies like Cdiscount stop loss-making promotional sales
  • ManoMano cuts a quarter of its workforce.
Reborn, the French specialist in refurbished supermarkets - 14/11/2023
  • Founding of Reborn: 2016
  • DPA Europe Group founded: 1976
  • Number of products refurbished by Reborn in 2019: 585,000, including 385,000 smartphones and 100,000 AirPods
  • Number of Reborn employees: 120
  • Reborn's sources of supply: 60% in the United States, with additional sources in Europe, Japan and the Middle East
  • The refurbished market in France accounted for 3.2 million units in 2019
  • Reborn sales forecast for this year: 100 million euros
  • Expected growth this year: 15%
  • Target for 2025: recondition 1.5 million devices
Orange fined 26 million euros - 09/11/2023
  • Fine imposed on Orange by Arcep: 26 million euros
  • Orange commitment in 2018: Fiber optic coverage of 3,000 communes in less densely populated areas of the country
  • Target connection rate for 2022: 100%
  • According to Arcep, at the beginning of 2022, Orange had only achieved 88% of its coverage target.
  • Number of premises not connected according to Orange: Approximately 540,000.
  • Orange's new commitments: 96% coverage of major cities and 98.5% coverage of medium-sized towns, at a total cost of several hundred million euros.
Fnac Darty's takeover of Cdiscount may be dead in the water - 30/10/2023
  • Cdiscount sales down 25% on last year
  • Cdiscount direct sales down 35%
  • Fnac Darty offered to buy Cdiscount for 500 million euros two years ago

Companies quoted in this study

This study contains a complete overview of the companies in the market, with the latest figures and news for each company. :

Back Market
YesYes
Largo
Recommerce
Cdiscount (CNova)
Save
Ecodair
Itancia
CEAT Electronique
DPA Europe Reborn
Keeep
Mobile Club

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