Back Market’s goal is to restore trust and create demand for refurbished electronics, driven by its mission to reduce the impact of a global crisis that saw e-waste levels reach 53.6 million metric tons in 2019. Producing a single new smartphone takes more than 44 kg of raw material, and creates more than 55kg of CO2. While purchasing a refurbished electronic device allows us to make the most out of the resources we have already used for its initial production, and reduces the overall impact of e-waste on the planet by keeping it away from landfills- it is not a common practice. In fact, because of sites like Craig’s list and a lack of standards, many people see buying refurbished electronics a risky and potentially negative experience.
All of this is playing out as the e-waste crisis gets worse. The UN reports that even with an increased focus on recycling today compared to the past, efforts to sustainably reclaim used devices simply can’t keep pace with the massive consumption rates for new devices - what’s needed is a shift to a circular economy to replace the linear.
This is the underlying goal of the Back Market Screw New Initiative: to move us beyond recycling and dive directly to the heart of the e-waste problem: overconsumption. Screw New is a strong call for redemption through circulation - and in order to get the masses to embrace buying refurbished we must rebrand it to be recognized as a safe, smart and fun experience.
We cannot separate the tech industry’s issues from larger societal issues because they are deeply interconnected, especially at a time when electronics use is at an all-time high. We are consuming and discarding electronics at a breakneck pace with people actively encouraged to upgrade their gadgets when they can. People find it easy to forget that just a short year before, we were similarly bombarded with a previous fleet of models that, if we’re being honest, weren’t significantly better than their perfectly adequate predecessors. A design tweak, a slight upgrade to a camera feature, maybe a new color or two: all part of the plot to manufacture a wave of mass amnesia that Apple and other major brands are coordinating. For now, most don’t consider repair or refurbished as “real” options but more as a last resort. Back Market is destined to change this mindset.
In a world where manufacturers are spending millions on campaigns and coming out with a new model every year, and our culture tells us we need to have the latest and greatest, Back Market knew it had to come with a strong message for customers. The Screw New campaign embodies the company’s vision, mission and value proposition while also empowering consumers with an effective way to address the growing and critical e-waste crisis. In today’s world where purpose and branding impact consumer behavior, Back Market’s Screw New campaign has resonance and is helping to rebrand “refurbished” as something desirable and cool. It also sums up things pretty well.
While manufacturers and big tech have taught us to celebrate scoring the newest devices as soon as possible, Screw New is a rallying cry and a high five to those who chose a quality refurbished device for less, a feel good moment for both our wallet and the planet. While manufacturers try to sell the next big thing, Back Market points us back - literally to Back Market and back to devices that do the job perfectly well, even if they’re not brand new.
This essential idea was conveyed through various channels that continued to allow Back Market to make an impact and reach users through a variety of mediums. From digital and social campaigns, to strategic partnerships, and even last-minute, boots-on-the-ground tactics like the Retro Mobile Music Festival. This idea was born as a response to the Covid lockdown but also helped demonstrate how older can be cool and fun and sometimes exactly what we need.
In addition to bold and quirky marketing campaigns, the company backs up its promises with the user experience. The marketplace provides a “like-new” buying process achieved through innovations in its proprietary machine learning algorithm that improves the experience for both the customer through its buy-box method, and the professional refurbishers by helping to predict demand. This year, in conjunction with the Screw New launch, the marketplace added protections such as standard minimum 1-year warranties for all devices, matching or beating most new devices and features more than 1,200 professional refurbishers.
The success of Screw New can be measured in a number of ways. First we can see from market growth that consumers are increasingly embracing refurbished electronics. Persistence Marketing Research, shows the refurbished electronics market is on the rise - growing from $19.7 billion in 2017 to $38.9 billion by 2025.
During the Screw New campaign, a survey in the United States found that a majority of buyers on Back Market are buying refurbished for the first time. While this goes along with the general trend, the fact that 50.5% of smartphone buyers on our site have said that they had not bought refurbished before because of doubts about quality and then proceeded to purchase from our site must mean that they have found a good form of reassurance because of what we do at Back Market.
The campaign also led to achievements such as an average of 120% YOY growth and over 20 million monthly visitors. In the past six years Back Market has grown to 9 countries.
Another important metric on the impact of buying refurbished is that 3,000 tons of e-waste has been saved/reduced since Back Market was founded. Based on smartphones sold in 2019 alone, that is 21,000 tons of natural resources saved by not making new phones.