Kondo craze hits retail
Lifestyle guru Marie Kondo has gained fame by urging consumers to keep only items that "spark joy" in their lives. But her advice is also sparking joy for sellers of storage products and secondhand clothing. Kondo, whose "Tidying Up With Marie Kondo" show debuted on Netflix Jan. 1, is contributing to an uptick in sales for both types of retailers.
"There is a movement across the board toward health and wellness," says Leen Nsouli, an office supplies and home improvement industry analyst at market research firm NPD Group. "Now it's manifesting itself in this Marie Kondo trend, but it's all about mindfulness and how to make my life better and contribute in a better way."
While Netflix declined to provide viewership data, the show has been undeniably popular. Kondo's Instagram following, at 700,000 on Dec. 31, has more than tripled to 2.8 million. Many brands are adopting some of Kondo's language in their marketing as they try to tap into the joyful craze of organization.
In January, sales of stackable file drawers grew 17 percent year-over-year—a sizable jump compared with the 1 percent full-year growth of 2018 over 2017, according to NPD. The firm also tracked an increase in corrugated boxes—the kind that consumers use to clear away and save important materials without having to take the time to sift through them. Normally, a rise in this category doesn't take place until moving season, which begins in April, says Nsouli.
"Consumers are definitely going out and purchasing these types of products to help them organize," she says, noting that consumers want to "implement a process," a lifestyle principle Kondo advises.
Nsouli says the Kondo trend follows several similar movements that have spurred sales of associated products, like the rise of adult coloring books and the popularity of slime.
The Container Store is trying to cash in. The Coppell, Texas-based retailer, which has roughly 90 locations and specializes in home and office organization, has noticed the popularity of Kondo's KonMari strategy in online chatter from customers. "We've created digital content and other marketing materials around this trend and are educating our stores so they can best serve customers that want to get organized with Marie Kondo's method," says John Gehre, executive VP of merchandising and planning.
The resale industry is also reporting big returns as shoppers clean out overstuffed closets. Following the Kondo show's debut, ThredUp, a San Francisco-based clothing resale site founded in 2009, says it saw an 80 percent spike above average orders of its cleanout kits, which consumers use to resell their unwanted apparel. The company also included the Kondo trend in its annual Fashion Resale Market and Trend Report, released last month, and has been using phrases like "sparking joy by cleaning out" in email marketing and paid social ads, according to Samantha Blumenthal, marketing communications manager.
ThredUp predicts that the total secondhand apparel market in the U.S. will grow to $51 billion by 2023, up from $11 billion in 2012, thanks to the growing movement of conscious consumerism. If one in 10 Netflix subscribers cleaned out their closets, that would generate 667 million pounds of trash, according to ThredUp's research. "A lot of people do still throw their clothing in the trash," says Blumenthal. "There is an easy, responsible way to clean out your clothing that doesn't result in mountains of clothing ending up in a landfill."