Why Resale Shopping Is So Addictive — According to a Psychologist

If you've ever dipped your toe into the world of vintage and resale shopping, you know that it's terribly addictive. While I've never been to a casino, I imagine the high I get when I find a piece I've been coveting since the designer's 2007 runway show is something akin to winning at slot — except better.

As it happens, one of our favorite resale websites, Vestiaire Collective, wanted to investigate the behavior of their shoppers and that undeniable addiction and enlisted the help of Benjamin Voyer, a behavioral psychologist and professor, to help understand the insatiable pull we all experience. After surveying their global community and analyzing the findings with Voyer, they organized all of our deliriously euphoric shopping habits into four behavioral categories. Because, of course, if we find logic for the impulse, it's totally reasonable, right? Vestiaire and Voyer shared all of their insights with us, so we're breaking them down right here.

1. Selling Is the New Buying

Shopping resale is, inherently, driven by the availability of product. Which — you guessed it — means that selling is just as exciting as buying. "Selling is a social activity by nature," Voyer noted, adding, "Consumers are paradoxically excited by the unpredictability surrounding making a bid and closing a sale, making resale marketplaces more exciting than traditional e-comm." A whopping 66 percent of Vestiaire's members stated that they were "drawn to the thrill of selling pieces they no longer wear."

2. Gamification

Why play those slot machines when you can experience the same exhilaration trying to track down that one-of-a-kind vintage find? The challenge of the hunt, thrill of the chase, and elation of the find are unmatched. Voyer shared, "Resale offers consumers a unique, gamified environment that pulls on emotional strings due to the competitive aspect of the experience. They love the competitive challenge of finding a one-of-a-kind piece and then feel rewarded by discovering an amazing deal and snapping it up before anyone else."

3. Thrill of the Hunt

And, speaking of the thrill of the hunt, Voyer found that the emotions associated with that game actually raise the levels of chemicals in your brain and "offer a roller coaster of emotions, with consumers willing to give up control during the buying and selling process." He went on to add, "Neuroscience research has found that there are heightened levels of dopamine during risk-taking behavior, and that's what can be found by hunting for a heavily discounted dress or a coat you thought you'd never see again." It's an element of surprise that is unmatched by other, more traditional retail experiences, and the Vestiaire community echoed the sentiment, with 66 percent of them sharing that shopping resale is "like a treasure hunt."

4. Euphoria of Decluttering

And as far as the sellers are concerned, resale companies are a fantastic way to declutter their wardrobes, while also offering their old loves up to those who will appreciate them as much as the original owner once did. Voyer cited decluttering as a healthy way to prevent what he referred to as the "tyranny of choice.""Research suggests that when there is a plethora of options, consumers are less able to make a decision and feel less satisfied overall," he explained. "Decluttering means reducing the options, which is therefore beneficial."

While we already know the value of resale when it comes to sustainability, it's a comfort to know that our addiction to the sport — yes, that's right, we're calling it a sport — is not unique to us. It's an affliction we will not only take, though, but also love and nurture for the rest of eternity.

Courtesy of Vestiaire Collective