How Depop became both a style and social hub for Gen Z

Few corporations perceive what Gen Z desires in addition to Depop. The style-resale platform has 30 million registered customers—and 90% of its energetic customers are below the age of 26. They use the positioning not solely to purchase and promote classic garments but in addition to coalesce into totally different communities primarily based on style, from “cabincore” L.L. Bean-inspired seems to Y2K homages full with Juicy Couture tracksuits. Maria Raga, who became CEO of Depop in 2016, has overseen the corporate’s progress and—in June—its $1.6 billion acquisition by Etsy, a transfer by the e-commerce large to seize both the burgeoning fashion-resale market and the hearts and minds of youthful consumers. Right here, Raga explains how one can construct a platform that’s genuine.

[Photo: David Vintiner]

Face your skeptics

Raga started her profession as a marketing consultant at Bain & Co. earlier than leaving to work at tech startups: First, she joined Privalia, an early private-sale website, and then the online-voucher pioneer Groupon. Although she loved the joy of being at these corporations throughout their early years, she says it wasn’t all the time straightforward to get folks to know what the startups did: “While you’re doing one thing new, there are all the time going to be skeptics—folks aren’t used to it; they don’t see ‘it.’”

She confronted comparable headwinds when she became Depop’s vice chairman of operations in 2014, at a time when resale was nonetheless seen because the purview of thrift retailers and flea markets. “Again within the day, it was a bit embarrassing for me to say that I used to be working in a enterprise that was all about resale. My buddies have been like, ‘Why would you try this?’” she recollects. “It took a lot of convincing, particularly on the investor entrance. For 3 or 4 years, [I was] evangelizing, [saying] ‘Resale goes to be huge.’” At this time, the secondhand market is price greater than $36 billion and is anticipated to double inside 5 years.

Play it cool

Depop appeals to youthful customers, however wasn’t constructed particularly for them when it launched in 2011. “We’ve got a set of values that occurs to resonate fairly nicely with Gen Z,” Raga says. The location encourages creativity and self-expression via its Instagram-esque picture feeds, which permit customers to love, remark, and message each other, and faucets into folks’s entrepreneurial sides by allowing anybody to arrange a facet hustle—all of that are priorities for Gen Z, in keeping with a current research that Depop carried out with Bain. (Depop’s resale mannequin additionally appeals to Gen Z’s curiosity in sustainability.)

Having a platform that’s genuine to Gen Z—quite than retrofitted to enchantment to them—is essential, Raga says. When vogue manufacturers wish to associate with Depop, she encourages them to suppose equally. For a 2020 Vans collaboration, the shoemaker partnered with main Depop sellers, who every designed a pair of sneakers and bought them on the positioning. “It’s all about showcasing creativity or bringing heritage manufacturers again,” Raga says.

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Keep curious

Although she leads a firm with Gen Z customers, Raga, at 42, is just not a part of that era. “I assumed that it could possibly be a problem,” she admits. “However I spotted that makes me extra open-minded, extra keen to be taught from them and perceive how they suppose—versus attempting to construct issues to my very own style.” To make sure that her firm stays tapped into youthful customers, she invitations sellers (in non-COVID occasions) into Depop’s places of work to pack and ship off their gadgets. She additionally pays shut consideration to how individuals are utilizing the platform. Considered one of Depop’s hottest options—the power for a vendor to bundle a variety of gadgets into a single sale—got here after watching customers hack collectively a much less elegant resolution on-line.

Raga says she takes a “community-first mentality” to rising Depop. “It’s a very natural solution to develop. You don’t make investments a lot of cash in advertising and marketing,” she says. “So it takes a bit longer, however on the similar time, it’s a lot extra sustainable. And positively a lot extra worthwhile.”