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Tech brands extend product lifespans to meet consumers’ green demands

Bang and Olufsen speaker dissected
Bang and Olufsen
Dec 08, 2021 By WGSN Insider
Consumer Tech

In the latest of our white paper insights, we look into tech and how the brands should be extending the life of products to build consumer relationships.

Consumers are seeking greater control over the lifespan of their electronics and they expect brands to support their endeavors. The production phase accounts for a large proportion of the lifetime emissions of electronics: around 80% for mobile devices, 57% for washing machines and one-third for TVs.

WGSN graph
Google Trends data

European governments are exploring the idea of lifespan labels for white goods. A report by Germany’s federal government found that “within any given price segment, consumers opted for products with a longer lifespan significantly more often in all appliance groups if they had information on lifespan”.

Another key aspect of this is the growing Right to Repair movement. A 2021 YouGov study found that 54% of consumers globally would prefer to repair broken tech than replace it, with the figure rising to 71% in India and 65% in the UAE. As right-to-repair legislation gathers pace and consumers expect more responsibility from brands, planned obsolescence is losing traction and repair is climbing the list of consumer priorities.

In the EU, right-to-repair regulations came into effect this year, under which manufacturers have to supply spare parts for machines for up to 10 years and provide better access to information on repairs. There is strong support for such regulations: 77% of European citizens would rather repair their devices than replace them, while 79% say manufacturers should be legally required to make it easier to repair devices, according to a European Commission study. Right to repair legislation is also gaining ground in the US, where President Biden has instructed the Federal Trade Commission to draw up new rules.


Business strategies

  • Implement lifespan labelling, extended warranties and guaranteed long-term software support for electronics
  • Develop DIY kits that empower consumers to maintain products and replace components more easily
  • Partner with repair experts to establish best-practice repairability and determine how it could factor into future product design
  • Explore repair subscription services as an alternative source of revenue, but be generous with open-source repair where feasible, such as by supporting Repair Cafes
  • Design for disassembly to make repair viable and keep spare parts in circulation

WGSN subscribers can see the full white paper, Create Better, here or catch up on our latest Food & Drink, Beauty and Fashion insights.

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