Consumer interest in second-hand smartphones increasing

Thursday 21 January 2016 | 15:28 CET | Background

Dutch consumers are increasingly open to buying a second-hand mobile phone, according to research by the Telecompaper Consumer Panel. Almost half (47%) were positive about acquiring a previously used handset, up from 42 percent two years ago.

Notably, many increasingly see the mobile provider as the place for acquiring a used handset; 16 percent said they would interested in a second-hand phone as part of their subscription, up from 12 percent a year ago. According to Telecompaper's Dutch Smartphone User 2015 Q3 report, 14 percent already have second-hand smartphones, the majority of which acquired the phone from a family member. 

Mobile providers see limited demand

KPN's low-cost brand Telfot was the first to start selling second-hand phones, at the end of 2013. It offered Sim-only plans with older high-end models, such as the iPhone 4, de Samsung Galaxy SIII and HTC One X. KPN said the company does not have plans to offer such phones under the main KPN brand. Telfort's offer, which ran until October 2014, did not see particularly high interest, the KPN spokesman said.

Around a year later Vodafone launched the pilot programme 'Like New', offering customers a discount on a near-new phone with a new subscription. This was also stopped due to low demand. Dutch consumers appear to have limited interest in a second-hand phone, according to Martin de Jong, sustainability manager at Vodafone. He said Vodafone sees more demand for second-hand phones in markets like Africa, where many of the old phones returned to the operator are refurbished for resale.

The Phone House launched at the end of 2014 its Outlet Zone, offering online and in 10 shops refurbished phones for sale. These are sold with a 12-month guarantee and discounts of up to 40 percent. 

In addition to mobile retailers, family and acquaintances are a common source of used phones. Last year 15 percent of the Dutch said they would buy a phone from an acquaintance. Mobile provider Ben's research found that around half of Dutch households have one or more smartphones no longer in use, equal to around 6.3 million old but still working phones. 

Young people more open to used phone

Mainly consumers under 50 are interested in a second-hand phone from their provider. A fifth of 40-49 year-olds would do this, compared to 11 percent of 65-80 year-olds. Older mobile users are also less interested in buying a phone from someone they don't know, such as through Marktplaats. Only 2 percent of 50-64 year-olds said they would do this, while those under 40 were more open to the idea. 

Half the Dutch said they don't want a used phone, compared to 41 percent in 2013 and 53 percent in 2014. Young people were more prepared to accept a second-hand phone, at 57 percent of 12-19 year-olds versus just 32 percent of 65-80 year-olds. Men were also more open to the idea, with 18 percent interested in a second-hand phone with their mobile subscription versus 11 percent of women. 

Telecompaper also looked at the differences between Sim-only and postpaid package subscribers. Over half (51%) of Sim-only customers would consider a second-hand phone, versus 43 percent of standard postpaid customers. Eighteen percent 18 percent of Sim-only subscribers would buy a used phone from someone they know, compared to 10 percent on a postpaid package. 

This research is based on the Telecompaper Consumer Panel. Questions: Are you interested in a second-hand smartphone (at least one year old)? This includes more expensive (high-end) handsets, such as iPhones and Samsung Galaxys. The question was asked in November 2013 (n=2,157), 2014 (n=1,238) and 2015 (n=1,540). Panel participants are aged 18-80, and results are stratified for age, gender and education. For more information about research opportunities with the panel, please contact research@telecompaper.com.


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