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Companies Taking Out The Middle Man

Published on April 27, 2018, at 4:09 p.m.
by Alana Doyle.

Remember weekend-long garage sales with your family? Sitting in the sun, waiting for someone to find the treasure in your trash? Thanks to the development of consumer-to-consumer (C2C) companies over the last decade, a new convenience factor has been introduced to buying and selling used goods. These corporations are developing innovative ways to bring customers together through virtual communities.

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Craigslist: Where it all started
In 1995, Craig Newmark created one of the first consumer-to-consumer websites. Craigslist allows anyone to advertise anything to users of the site. Posts include job offers, used household items, animals for sale, even dates! The site offers a variety of locations across the country so that buyers and sellers are able to conveniently meet one another without traveling an extensive distance. According to data from 2018, Craigslist currently has over 60 million users and generates roughly 50 billion page views per month.

How did this website get so popular? Word-of-mouth marketing.

Without any significant competition in the C2C industry at the time, an online garage sale was a win-win experience for all parties involved. Thanks to international media coverage from a variety of sources, Craigslist quickly became a household name and a go-to platform for people around the world. In regard to promotional campaigns … Craigslist has none. Even the current website looks identical to the original design from 1995!

The real question is will Craigslist survive without PR and marketing techniques like those of rising competitors? According to a recent Forbes article, a new tech startup called OfferUp has more-advanced technology, a modern web design and effective public relations efforts to gain attention and credibility. Similar to the basic foundation of Craigslist, OfferUp is an easy-to-use application that makes buying and selling used goods simple.

The press tab on the OfferUp website provides a contact email for interested journalists to speak with a public relations representative at the company and includes recent media coverage from news sources. Brand assets are also available like a variety of logos, icons and wordmarks. Another communications tactic is developing a blog portion of the website to share information about events, company culture details and product promotions.

Photo by Pexels

REXCHANGE: Taking the real estate agent out of real estate
REX Real Estate Exchange is a digital platform that allows homeowners to list their properties online without the high fees typically associated with traditional real estate companies. People looking to purchase new homes are able to take a virtual tour through the house, review details about the location, examine the sales history of the property and even see comparable sales of similar houses in the area. From there, buyers may ask questions about the property, schedule an in-person tour or even make an offer directly on the platform.

Since the company’s creation in 2015, REX Real Estate has quickly developed into a recognizable brand and gained news coverage from national media outlets. The REX Real Estate website includes a section entitled, “Success Stories,”  which provides testimonials from previous users in an effort to improve credibility.

One of the key brand elements of the company is its social mission. REXCHANGE is dedicated to helping families in need by creating one home in Cambodia for every 50 homes sold through the platform. The REXCHANGE website features specific families the organization has helped, so potential users are able to recognize these aren’t empty promises.

According to a research study titled “The Influence of Corporate Social Responsibility on Public Opinion,”  a company’s participation in philanthropic activities improves its public perception. In order for this business strategy to be effective, communications efforts must be put in place to promote the charitable morals and values of the corporation.

Photo by Pixabay

Poshmark: From one closet to the next
With over 25 million items and 5,000 brands, Poshmark is a digital platform for users to buy and sell fashion. Think Plato’s Closet online! Selling items takes less than 60 seconds because the steps are simple: Just take a picture of the item, add a description and set the price. People looking to shop at Poshmark are able to find lightly used products from top designers at discounted prices.

Across Facebook , Twitter and Instagram, Poshmark has developed a unified digital brand and voice. On its Instagram feed, for example, there is a wide variety of trendy clothing options and relatable, comedic graphics scattered throughout. In addition, the company developed a social community on the mobile application that allows “seller stylists” to customize unique looks for their shoppers.

Consumer-to-consumer corporations provide a convenient shopping experience for users across the world. With the C2C organization as the background player of this business model, unique public relations tactics must be used to improve user activity and popularity of the site. There are endless windows of opportunities for potential C2C businesses. What’s next?

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