Refurbished/pre-owned smartphone market trend in USA & Japan

According to the recent research, In 2020, 87.4% of Japanese owns smartphones while 94.9% of Americans owns them. In particular, the purchase of preowned/refurbished smartphones in Japan takes up 6.1% of the whole smartphone market.
This number has raised slightly but surely every year. On the other hand, 10.4% of Americans goes for the products.

Comparison of expectations on preowned/refurbished phones

Japanese consumers expect the handsets to be:

  • Fully function
  • Completely cleaned up
  • Good battery health

American consumers expect:

  • Ready for use
  • Completely cleaned up
  • Properly repaired

The consumers in two countries feel device’s appearance and functions are important to make a purchase decision. Noticeably, the Japanese consumers answered “no expectations” for the devices 4 times more than the Americans did. This may indicate that the pre-owned/refurbished devices are more common and well accepted in American market.

Comparison of reasons for purchasing

Top 3 reasons for Japanese consumers:

1. Price (cheaper than brand new ones)
2. Device SIM to be unlocked
3. Collection purpose, the model not available in shops as brand new, for temporary use until new model is released

Top 3 reasons for American consumers:

  1. Price (cheaper than brand new ones)
  2. Device SIM to be unlocked
  3. For a better contract with low-cost operator while having the latest model

    We can see here that many people is choosing for the price and for a freedom to select the operator that suits each user’s needs & budgets.

Preowned/refurbished smartphones in Ecommerce

In both countries, big ecommerce platformers started to carry this product category. For instance, has had renewed program in USA, Europe, Australia for years, The U.S. retail giant, Walmart, also has the product category in their online shop. Also, Amazon Japan launched the renewed program in 2020.
These big players involving in this line of products indicates that there is huge worldwide market demand.

As for Malaysian market, Reebelo is already operating in Singapore and Australia. It now launched the operation in Malaysia. They practice screening process to make sure the sellers on their platform are capable of providing the quality products, so consumers can make a purchase without any worries.

Importance of the business association for standardization

With many sellers in the market, Malaysian consumers are not sure which supplier is trustworthy. In many cases, each supplier has their own grading standards, which makes even more difficult to cross reference whose grade A is equivalent to whose grade A+ and so forth.

The same happens everywhere. In Japan, some businesses engaged in handling the products gathered to form the organization called RMJ (Reuse Mobile Japan) to standardize the quality grading criteria and increase more confidence to consumers in purchasing.
Such activities may be indispensable in any market for the future development of this industry.