ThredUP’s new Chief Marketing Officer is aimed at younger customers. Noelle Sadler, the first dedicated CMO in five years, is tasked with attracting a younger generation than the typical second-hand site consumer.
“The marketing challenges that ThredUP will face in the next five years will be different than the last five years,” said President Anthony Marino. “We’ve always focused our business on this incredibly enthusiastic and large market of what I like to call bargain hunters, people who love the treasure hunt of shopping.”
With the second-hand market expected to grow from $35 billion to $82 billion over the next five years, there will be more than bargain hunters shopping. “People who used to buy new are starting to buy used,” Marino said.
Sadler joins thredUP from online fashion retailer Lulus, where she most recently served as CMO. Prior to that, she held several marketing leadership positions at MAC Cosmetics and co-founded Retold Recycling, a subscription-based clothes cleaning service.
“My job isn’t to fix things that aren’t broken, it’s to really evaluate and understand what’s working and see where I can offer value and support and take things to the next level,” Sadler said . “I don’t think you’re going to see big, sweeping changes coming out of the gate because it’s working. It’s a testament to the team that built all of this.”
“One of the fundamental questions Noelle wants to explore is how we can continue to methodically and relentlessly engage the next generation of shoppers and bargain hunters,” said Marino. “Part of that will be marketing and how we tell our story and articulate why customers should see us and part of that is how we make it easy to shop at will.
“Fast fashion is easy and it’s fast, and we know the competition for apparel is fierce,” said Marino. “Fast fashion is successful for a reason – it’s really convenient and really cheap, so we want to offer a really attractive alternative that ticks all the boxes in terms of value and enhances our customers’ sense of personal style. You will also become sustainable. Customers want all three. If you’re wondering why I’m excited about Noelle joining, it’s because she brings that perspective from her previous experiences at Lulu’s and MAC, and she will leverage those motivations from our customers.”
Coming from a fast-fashion giant might seem paradoxical, but Sadler believes second-hand companies like ThredUP can learn a lot from traditional fashion brands. Their two experiences were very different. MAC, a global omnichannel giant, has a big footprint while Lulu’s is hyper-focused.
“My focus at MAC was on the consumer marketing side of the business and building from social media channels, content marketing strategies and partnerships to advertising and stuff like that, which MAC hadn’t done in the past,” Sadler said. “That was working with the ecommerce team, not monitoring.
“At Lulus, I really grew my skillset on the performance marketing side and took a data-driven approach,” she added. “Even when running larger brand campaigns, we’ve always paid attention to how we’re driving incremental growth and conversion. I love the story but I also want to measure it and know that it works for us.”
Sadler said merch will be a big part of her new job. “The first and most important thing that’s obvious to the customer is to prioritize the merchandising,” she said. “The on-site experience is now focused on brands and specific products, but people typically visit a clothing site or destination with a specific occasion or need, so it’s not necessarily that you buy that brand or that item. Many people will come to us for homecoming dresses or back-to-school outfits.
“It strengthens our merchandising capabilities so that these types of searches actually provide the value and latch on so people can find what they want,” she added. “That will also drive our marketing. We can tell stories better and roll out all those merchandising marketing moments and opportunities to attract more people. Also, when people see us in the market, they get great brands and find out what they are looking for and what attracted them in the first place.”
Marino said the current economic climate bodes well for ThredUP. “The reason I think Noelle is the best fit for us is, let’s face it, the American consumer is under a lot of pressure right now,” he said. “There is inflation and uncertainty about how the economy will develop. We’re starting to see historical shifts in consumer buying habits, and that’s when you need some astute marketing where the lessons you’ve learned in the past may not necessarily apply.
“Noelle comes in with fresh eyes and a fresh perspective when that’s what all marketers need now more than ever,” added Marino. “The consumer is on the move, and any marketer who tells you they know exactly where the consumer is going isn’t giving it to you directly. We need to get back to the data and we need to ask questions. We need to know that we are offering them added value. Noelle comes at a time when we are in growth mode.”
ThredUP, an online consignment thrift store, has grown into one of the world’s largest online resale platforms for women’s and children’s clothing, shoes and accessories by simplifying the process of buying second-hand goods. Sellers can easily clean out their closets and unlock value for themselves or their charity of choice while doing good for the planet.
The site is launching an 80% discount for the back-to-school season this month. “We are absolutely ready with our back to school range and merchandise and have a number of campaigns to launch throughout August. We hope to bring some hope and happiness and some savings to American buyers at a time when they desperately need it.”