Consumer centric design for refurbishment

How designers can enhance consumer acceptance of refurbished products

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Global warming will exceed 1.5-2°C during the 21st century unless greenhouse gas emissions are heavily reduced in the next 30 years. The average carbon footprint of a person living in the European Union amounted to 6.7 tons of CO2 in 2019, of which 70% is related to the way we live, move and consume. The production and use of electronics, is an important factor in the environmental impact of consumption. A key strategy to reduce an electronic product’s environmental footprint is to extend its lifetime through refurbishment.
Refurbished products are collected after being used, tested, cleaned, and restored into an acceptable state, and subsequently, they are resold. Yet, lowering the environmental impact of consumption by using refurbished products requires that refurbished products are acquired instead of new ones. However, refurbished products are not as desirable to consumers as new products, which has the consequence that they have
lower purchase intentions and are willing to pay less for them.
The aim of this thesis is to understand consumer acceptance of refurbished products and how designers can enhance their desirability. Thus far, marketing strategies, aiming to improve consumer adoption of refurbished products have focused on minimizing the risks associated with refurbished products and underlining their benefits. Refurbished products are, for example, often offered at a lower price than new products and with a warranty. A central issue of these marketing strategies is that they are peripheral to the product, are not applicable to all product categories, and are not appropriate for all consumers. While they can improve the trade-off for refurbished products, they do not help to keep the product at its highest material and economic value.
In this dissertation, we, therefore, explore the main research question: how can designers enhance consumer acceptance of refurbished products by design?