The primary reasons for choosing a circular product are still style and the price. Contributing towards environmental and circular causes ranks third. Companies should highlight the value of greener and circular manufacturing and sustainable materials but must consider the preferences and characteristics of the targeted customer segment, for example style or purchasing power. Price is especially relevant for the younger generations, which is potentially linked to their purchasing power. For those 55 years and older, the act of being sustainable scores above average (38.3%). While cost is not irrelevant, they are willing to pay more than their younger counterparts perhaps indicating that as purchasing power increases so does the possibility to act more freely and according to personal conviction.
For consumers who chose not to buy a product, price is a definite pain point (34.1%). Trailing a bit behind are factors such as “thought the quality would not be the same” (15.9%) and “did not trust the associated information” (10.3%). While the fashion industry overall seems to be good at communicating product claims, there could be a need to build more trust and traceability especially towards consumers. This can be challenging in face of younger generations’ declining trust in brands and the information shared.
There seems to be a high awareness of re-use and repurposing and less waste mentality than in the past, with 89.2% having engaged in at least one end-of-life cycle option. Of those, 49.7% have donated to charities or a goodwill programme, 37.9% have made sure a product was reused, 32.7% have repaired products and 31.6% have resold to a second-hand marketplace. The high numbers relating to charities and goodwill could potentially be explained by the accessibility in many countries which makes it easy to donate.
Younger generations seem more into re-use (45.8% of those in the 18-39 age group) while those above 55 focus more on repair (43.4%).
Consumers tend to engage based on personal reasons, for example doing something for the community (52.9%) or decluttering (43.3%). As expected, access to end-of-life programmes is an important factor (42.1%).
Several aspects seem to come into play when consumers decide whether to buy circular products. Information on the ecological footprint is important to 49.1%, working and labour conditions to 45.7%, the quality of the product to 38% and certifications, verified labels and validated sustainability claims to 37.8%. This is followed by information on the supply chain (35.1%) and information about the care, repair and disposal of the product (35%). This picture indicates that manufacturers and brands have multiple circular dimensions on which to be active.
Of those asked, 27.7% still have their broken electronic devices in the house. Only 20.7% have recycled it through a locally available program. If the device is still working, 19% re-use it. Smaller electronic devices are easily stored at home, so people have less incentive to recycle them. Moreover, take-back programmes have tended not to be well advertised. If consumers do not know they can bring back products, materials that still have a residual value may never be recycled.
A total of 95.4% have engaged in at least one end-of-life option and 53% of those did it to contribute to community benefits and the environment. For 41.8% it was because it was easy to do, convenient and accessible and for 34.2% it was to declutter. The personal perspective and motivation seem to be guiding the behavioural pattern of consumers.
Financial incentives scores fairly high (31%) as well. This could be linked to the electronic industry’s more structured programmes for taking items back and awareness of used electronic products’ residual value.
Those over 55 are more willing to contribute toward a brand’s strategy (25.6% vs 20.2% overall), indicating a sense of loyalty and an opportunity for electronics companies to reach out to this age group.