ThredUP’s new chief marketing officer is targeting younger customers. The first dedicated CMO in five years, Noelle Sadler is tasked with attracting younger generations than the second-hand site’s typical consumer.
“The marketing challenges facing ThredUP in the next five years will be different than the ones we faced in the past five years,” said Anthony Marino, president. “We’ve always focused the business on this incredibly enthusiastic and large market of what I will call ‘thrifters,’ people who love the treasure hunt of shopping.”
With the second-hand market expected to grow from $35 billion to $82 billion in the next five years, there will be more than just thrifters who are shopping. “People who typically bought new are starting to buy used,” Marino said.
Sadler joins thredUP from online fashion retailer Lulus, where she most recently served as CMO. Before that, she held several marketing leadership roles at MAC Cosmetics and cofounded Retold Recycling, a subscription-based clothing clean out service.
“My role coming in is not to fix things that aren’t broken, but to really assess and understand what’s working and see where I can provide value and support and take things to the next level,” Sadler said. “I don’t think you’re going to see huge, sweeping changes coming out of the gate because it’s working. It’s a testament to the team that built all that.”
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“One of the fundamental questions I want Noelle to get to the bottom of, is how do we continue to methodically and relentlessly grow the interest of the next generation of shoppers and thrifters,” Marino said. “Some of that will be marketing and how we tell our story and articulate why customers should view us, and part of that is how we make it easy to shop at their convenience.
“Fast fashion is easy, and it’s fast and we know that the competition is fierce out there for apparel,” Marino said. “Fast fashion is successful for a reason – it’s really convenient and it’s really cheap, so we want to provide a really attractive alternative that ticks all the boxes around value and around leveling up our customers’ sense of personal style. They also they get to be sustainable. Customers want all three. If you’re wondering why I’m so excited about Noelle joining, it’s because she brings that perspective from her previous experiences at Lulus and MAC and she’ll tap into those drivers of our customers.”
Coming from a fast fashion giant may seem paradoxical, but Sadler believes secondhand companies like ThredUP have a lot to learn from traditional fashion brands. Her two experiences were very different. MAC, a global omnichannel giant has a big footprint, while Lulus is hyper-focused.
“My focus at MAC was on the consumer marketing side of the business and building up everything from social media channels, content marketing strategy and partnerships and eventually, advertising and things like that, which MAC had not historically done,” Sadler said. “That was partnering with the ecommerce team, not overseeing it.
“At Lulus, I really built out my skill set on the performance marketing side of things and took a data-driven approach,” she added. “Even when we were doing bigger scale brand campaigns, we were always looking at how we were driving incremental growth and conversion. I love the story, but I also want to measure it and know that it’s working for us.”
Sadler said merchandising will play a big role in her new job. “The first and foremost thing that’s obvious to the customer is bringing merchandising to the forefront,” she said. “The experience on site is now focused on brands and specific products, but people usually visit an apparel site or destination with an occasion in mind or a specific need, so it’s not necessarily that you’re shopping that brand or that item. A lot of folks are going to be coming to us for homecoming dresses or back to school outfits.
“It’s powering up our merchandising capabilities so those types of searches actually provide the value and plugging in so people can find what they want,”she added. “That will also power our marketing. We can do better at storytelling and can bring all those merchandising marketing moments and opportunities to the marketplace to draw more people in. When people see us out in the marketplace they’ll also get great brands and find out what they’re looking for and what drew them in in the first place.”
Marino said the current economy bodes well for ThredUP. “The reason I feel Noelle is the best fit for us, is, let’s face it, the American consumer right now is under a lot of pressure,” he said. “There’s inflation and uncertainty about the economy going forward. We’re starting to see historic shifts in what consumers are buying and this is when you need your marketing to be sharp, where the lessons you learned in the past may not necessarily apply.
“Noelle is coming in with fresh eyes and a fresh perspective when all marketers need that now more than ever,” Marino added. “The consumer’s on the move and any marketer who tells you they know exactly where the consumer is going, isn’t giving it to you straight. We’ve got to get back to the data and we’ve got to be asking questions. We’ve got to know that we’re delivering value to them. Noelle comes at a time when we’re in a growth mode moving forward.”
ThredUP, an online consignment thrift shop, has become one of the world’s largest online resale platforms for women’s and kids’ apparel, shoes and accessories by simplifying the process of shopping for secondhand goods. Sellers can easily clean out their closets and unlock value for themselves or the charity of their choice while doing good for the planet.
The web site is launching an 80% off sale for the back-to-school season this month. “We’re totally ready with our assortment and merchandising for back-to-school and we have a bunch of campaigns that will launch over the course of August. We’re hoping to bring some hope and happiness to the American shopper, and some savings, at a time when they need it badly.”