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Product-service systems are circular business models that can potentially extend product lifetimes and reduce resource consumption. However, consumer product care is crucial in these business models. We explore consumer product care of newly bought, second-hand, and accessed bicycles and washing machines through an online survey (n = 212). Our analysis shows lower consumer product care of accessed products compared to ownership. Three strategies could address this; design for care, design to reduce the need for care, contractual conditions to stimulate care or penalise the lack thereof.
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V. S. C. Tunn 1, and L. Ackermann 1,2
1 Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands, 2 Salzburg University of Applied Sciences, Austria
Product-service systems are circular business models that can potentially extend product lifetimes and
reduce resource consumption. However, consumer product care is crucial in these business models. We
explore consumer product care of newly bought, second-hand, and accessed bicycles and washing
machines through an online survey (n = 212). Our analysis shows lower consumer product care of
accessed products compared to ownership. Three strategies could address this; design for care, design
to reduce the need for care, contractual conditions to stimulate care or penalise the lack thereof.
Keywords: business models, circular economy, design for sustainability, product-service systems
(PSS), sustainable consumer behaviour
1. Introduction
Sustainability has emerged as a major theme and aim in the design field. This can be understood as a
response to the current sustainability crisis and an acknowledgement of the role of design in it.
Significant research effort has been spent on designing sustainable products (e.g., Lofthouse, 2006;
Boks and McAloone, 2009; Cooper, 2017). Soon it transpired that consumers have a huge impact on
the sustainability of products through their use and behaviour patterns. Consequently, strategies to
design for sustainable behaviour were developed (e.g., Wever et al., 2008; Bhamra et al., 2011).
Researchers then realised that focusing on products alone missed many sustainable solutions and the
focus shifted towards the design of sustainable product-service bundles (Roy, 2000; Mont, 2004).
Currently, the circular economy integrates these approaches and aims to deliver a sustainable
economic system through circular business models. However, even well-designed business models can
fall short of their potential because of rebound effects; consumers might use products or services
differently or more than intended (Hertwich, 2005; Zink and Geyer, 2017).
Product care describes all activities initiated by consumers that prevent shortening of products lifetimes
and thus influence the length of the useful life of products. It thus influences the sustainability of
consumption through circular business models and rebound effects (Tukker, 2004; Agrawal et al., 2012;
Bardhi and Eckhardt, 2012; Kjaer et al., 2019). For example, access-based product-service systems
(AB-PSS) are business models that allow consumers to use products functionalities without purchasing
the products. The providing organisation allocates and maintains the products, thereby potentially
increasing products utilisation and lifetimes. The level of consumer product care in AB-PSS is unclear
despite frequently being noted as important consideration in previous literature. Some authors suggest
that consumers are more careful with accessed product because they feel more restricted in their use or
are worried about potential consequences of usage signs (Tukker, 2015; Cherry and Pigeon, 2018).
Other authors found that consumers behave more recklessly with accessed products as they do not bear
the responsibility and risk of wear and tear, and hidden damages (Bardhi and Eckhardt, 2012; Schaefers
et al., 2016).
We elucidate consumers product care of owned and accessed products by addressing the following
research question: How do circular business models influence consumers product care levels? To
explore this, we conducted an online survey on owned and accessed washing machines and bicycles.
These two products both have a high functional value and were selected because product care can
extend their lifetimes. Further, both products can be bought new, second-hand, and accessed in the
Netherlands, where we collected the data. Our findings demonstrate that product care is strongly
influenced by the chosen business model and that it is significantly higher in ownership than in AB-
PSS. Therefore, we provide a deeper understanding of the mechanisms between consumers, products
and business models in a circular economy. Product and service designers can use the insights of this
study to design AB-PSS and other circular business models.
2. Background
2.1. Product care
Product care is defined as activities initiated by consumers that prevent shortening of products
lifetimes or even extend products lifetimes (Ackermann et al., 2018). It includes activities such as
repair and maintenance, but also careful handling, and the use of adequate accessories. So far, research
of product care has mainly focused on the design of everyday products, for which several design
strategies have been proposed and evaluated (Ackermann et al., 2019). Some of these strategies focus
on the facilitation of product care by informing and enabling the consumer. However, prior research
has shown that the ability alone does not lead to product care. Instead, a value-action gap can be
observed; consumers realise the necessity to take care of their products, yet they fail to include these
activities in their daily lives (Ackermann et al., 2018).
Due to this observation, the design strategies for product care include approaches that focus on
increasing consumers motivation. For example, social connections that are based on shared
experiences of product care can increase consumersmotivation. Shared ownership has also been
mentioned as a motivator for care activities, because people experience social pressure to take care of
the products. Although this strategy refers to products being owned by multiple consumers at the same
time, such as a coffee machine in a shared flat, it might also be relevant for AB-PSS, where consumers
might at least consider that other people will use the product later. The next two strategies,
appropriation and reflecting, concern the consumer-product relationship; if a product is highly adapted
to a consumers needs or is associated with cherished memories, the consumer will probably take
better care of it. However, personalisation is currently limited in AB-PSS and it is unclear to what
extent users perceive psychological ownership or emotional attachment (see e.g., Mugge, 2007) to
accessed products (Tunn et al., 2019). The design strategies control and awareness are both serving as
triggers to make consumers aware of the need for product care. While awareness is a subtler approach,
such as push notifications or a slow decrease in performance, the product takes the initiative within the
control strategy. For instance, a coffee machine could automatically open the coffee grounds tray
when it needs to be emptied or stop working entirely until maintained appropriately. The final strategy
describes the communication of positive consequences that can be expected by taking care of the
product and negative consequences if it is not being cared for.
Product care research so far has focused on products that consumers own, or that are shared in a very
defined environment, such as a shared flat. Research on how a lack of ownership influences product care
and which design strategies could promote product care in alternative business models is still missing.
2.2. Design of sustainable AB-PSS
AB-PSS are services that grant consumers access to productsfunctionalities for a fee, such as leasing,
renting, and commercial sharing (Mont, 2002; Tukker, 2004). These services have a sustainability
potential and therefore AB-PSS design has attracted interest during the last two decades. Roy (2000)
distinguished between AB-PSS that maximises product utilisation during productslifetimes and AB-
PSS that extend products’ lifetimes. The sustainability potential of AB-PSS has been intensely
discussed and researched (e.g., Roy, 2000; Tukker, 2004; Cook, 2004; Matschewsky, 2019).
Agrawal et al. (2012) argued that leasing of durable products, such as washing machines, only
contributes to sustainability if product durability is improved compared to ownership. Tukker (2004)
largely followed this line of argumentation and emphasised that consumerscareless use of non-owned
products might outstrip the benefits of professional maintenance and repair in AB-PSS. An often
referred to example is bicycle sharing, although it could in theory reduce the need for cars and
encourage use of public transport by solving the last mile problem, in practice these systems might
increase impacts if they substitute walking and use of public transport (Fishman, 2016). In addition,
shared bicycles are frequently abused by users as well as non-users. This can result in extremely short
product lifetimes and thus reduce sustainability compared to ownership. Overall, it is now widely
agreed that AB-PSS have a sustainability potential but need to be purposefully designed, assessed, and
adjusted to realise their sustainability potential (Mont, 2004; Kjaer et al., 2019).
2.3. Product care in AB-PSS
AB-PSS differ from ownership in the consumer-product relationship and in the rules that shape this
relationship (Bardhi and Eckhardt, 2012). For example, it has been suggested that using products
through AB-PSS does not lead to product attachment (Catulli et al., 2017a). We study long-term use
AB-PSS because product care falls into the use phase which is highly relevant when consumers obtain
exclusive access to a product for a long period (Tunn et al., submitted). In AB-PSS, the consumer-
product relationship is generally based on accessing the functional value of products; the relationship
between users, products and AB-PSS provider is governed by contracts rather than mutual trust.
Standard maintenance and repair are generally part of the service of the AB-PSS provider; however,
AB-PSS users are usually expected to take a reasonable level of care of the accessed products and to
report issues. For example, the Dutch companies Swapfiets (2019) and Homie (2019) offer long-term
access to bicycles and washing machines respectively. While the companies are responsible for repair
and maintenance of the provided products in these long-term use AB-PSS, users are also expected to
take care. The Swapfiets (2019) terms and conditions state the expectation that the Rental Customer
makes normal use of the Bicycle and takes due care of the Bicycleand the service contract of Homie
(2019) demands customers to take good care of the washing machine.
Baxter and Childs (2017) argued that the frequent dispossessing of products in AB-PSS hinders
consumers to perceive psychological ownership and prevents product care. Consumers frequently
encounter contamination caused by careless or even reckless behaviour of other AB-PSS users (e.g.,
Bardhi and Eckhardt, 2012; Durgee and OConnor, 1995). Indeed, many car-sharing users admitted
abusing the cars and stated they felt no responsibility for potential long-term damages as those were
the car sharing providersresponsibility (Bardhi and Eckhardt, 2012; Schaefers et al., 2016). In stark
contrast, a few studies suggest that consumers treat accessed products more carefully than owned ones
(e.g., Ozanne and Ozanne, 2011; Baumeister and Wangenheim, 2014) or worry more about accessed
products (Lidenhammar, 2015; Catulli et al., 2017b; Cherry and Pidgeon, 2018). However, this might
be to avoid financial repercussions rather than because of a feeling of responsibility for the state of the
product (Ozanne and Ozanne, 2011). Product care in AB-PSS has been largely explored through
qualitative studies, and literature so far is inconclusive about actual levels of product care.
2.4. The relationship between consumers, business models and product care
In this study, we take a business models perspective on consumer product care. For consumers, the
relationship with the product is the main difference between access and ownership models. We
compare consumers’ product care in these models and further differentiate ownership by whether
products were bought new or second hand. Second-hand products and long-term access are both
consumption modes based on circular business models and facilitate product reuse. While consumers
can purchase second-hand products through different business models, we assume that these lead to
similar product care behaviour during the use phase. We found no quantitative study that provides a
detailed understanding of consumersproduct care or the lack thereof across different business
models. We thus address the research question: How do circular business models influence
consumersproduct care levels?
Based on extant literature on consumer product care and AB-PSS, a conceptual model was developed to
explain levels of consumer product care for a) owned products that were bought new, b) owned products
bought second-hand, and c) long-term accessed products (see Figure 1). In addition to the effect of
business models on product care (1), the model also includes product-related and person-related
variables. Product-related variables comprise characteristics of the product and the consumer-product
relationship. These include consumers’ perception of the quality, satisfaction, attitude, involvement, and
usefulness of the product as well as the disposal tendency and (emotional) attachment to the products.
These variables were included because previous research has shown that the more positive a product is
perceived by a consumer, the more he/she will take care of it (Mugge et al., 2005). Person-related
variables describe attitudes and characteristics of the consumer that motivate him/her to consume in a
conscious and environmentally friendly way. It includes frugality, environmental concern, long-term
orientation and use innovativeness, which describes the tendency to use and alter products in a creative
way. As previous research (Ackermann et al., 2018) has shown, people vary greatly in their product care
behaviour, and these individual traits seem to play a crucial role. However, we assume that these person-
related variables might not only affect product care directly, but might also influence the decision to buy
a product new or second-hand or to select a long-term access model. Therefore, our model includes the
effect of business models on product-related variables (2) and the effect of product-related variables on
product care (3). Further, the impact of person-related variables on business model choice (4) as well as
on product care (5) are included in the model.
Figure 1. Conceptual model of factors influencing consumersproduct care
Based on these assumptions, we defined the following hypotheses:
H1: The business model influences the level of product care.
H2: The business model influences the product-related variables.
H3: The product-related variables influence the level of product care.
H4: The person-related variables influence the choice of business model.
H5: The person-related variables influence the level of product care.
3. Method
3.1. Survey
One survey with two versions focussing on respondents everyday bicycle or washing machine was
created. First, respondents were asked about their mode of consumption of that product; whether they
bought it new, second-hand, use it through a long-term AB-PSS, or another mode of consumption.
Subsequently, several established scales were used to measure respondents values, their perception of
the product, and their level of product care for the products under investigation. The product care scale
is based on extensive research by one of the authors (Ackermann et al., submitted). We further included
and tested 6 items from the environmental concern scale (Kilbourne and Pickett, 2008), 8 items from
the frugality scale (Lastovicka et al., 1999), 9 items from the use innovativeness scale (Girardi et al.,
2005), 8 items from the long-term orientation scale (Bearden et al., 2006), 5 items from the attitude
scale by Ahluwalia and Burnkrant (2004), 3 items from the usefulness scale by Cox and Cox (2002), 3
items from the satisfaction scale (Crosby and Stephens, 1987), 4 items from the attachment scale
(Schifferstein and Zwarthuis-Pelgrim, 2008), 4 items (as used in Bower and Landreth, 2001) from the
involvement scale (Zaichkowsky, 1985), 3 items from the quality scale (Grewal et al., 1998), 4 items
from the disposal tendency scale (Mugge, 2007), and 10 items from the product care scale. For the
attitude, usefulness and satisfaction scales, a 7-point semantic differential was applied. All other
variables were assessed with 7-point scales (1= strongly disagree to 7 = strongly agree).
3.2. Participants
The implementation and adoption of AB-PSS is still rare (e.g., Tukker, 2015; Tunn et al., 2019) which
makes it difficult to reach a large number of users. We thus resorted to recruiting a non-probability sample
through social media (Stern et al., 2017). Links to the survey were posted in social media groups for
housing, second-hand furniture, and bicycles to reach consumers using the business models under
investigation. Business models for both products were defined as bought new (n = 52), bought second-hand
(n = 94), and long-term access (n = 66). The sample comprises Dutch respondents and expats living in the
Netherlands. However, the sample composition should not impact our results because the researched
products primarily provide functional value and are both widely used in the Netherlands, irrespective of
cultural background. Of the 306 started surveys 166 were completed (54%) and 212 surveys were
sufficiently completed to be included in the analysis. Of the respondents 75% were aged 30 or younger,
with 58% female respondents. Respondents could enter a prize draw to win a €10 gift voucher.
4. Results
The analysis showed that the frequency of care activities correlates with product care measured by the
product care scale on a high level (r = .51, p < .01). The frequency in which respondents conduct product
care activities differs among the three business models. For example, 14% of respondents who bought new
bicycles, 23% of respondents who bought second-hand bicycles, and 69% of respondents with long-term
access to bicycles, indicated that they never oil the bicycle chain. Similarly, 25% of respondents who
bought new washing machines, 20% of respondents who bought second-hand washing machines, and 59%
of respondents with long-term access to washing machines, reported that they never change the filter.
A Wilcoxon rank sum test revealed that product care for bicycles and washing machines does not differ
significantly (W = 5669, p = 0.5678). In addition, a one-way ANOVA for dependent samples
demonstrated that the chosen business model predicts product care for bicycles (F = 5.936, p < .05) as
well as for washing machines (F = 4.109, p < .05), with the lowest product care level for the accessed
products and the highest level for products that were bought new. This result was explored in more detail
by dividing the participants according to the business models. In these three groups product care also did
not differ significantly between the two products. Thus, we decided to combine the data of bicycles and
washing machines for the subsequent analyses. For the analysis of the product-related and the person-
related variables, we calculated the means for each scale, with disposal tendency being recoded so that a
high value represents a low tendency to dispose of the product. The hypotheses were tested through
regression analysis, using the psych package of RStudio 1.1.463. The three business models were
represented by dummy variables. The results are presented below and summarised in Figure 2.
H1: The business model influences the level of product care.
A one-way ANOVA revealed that the business model has a significant influence on product care (F =
11.01, p < .01). Subsequent planned contrasts demonstrated that buying second-hand products or using
access products significantly decreased product care (t(209) = -2.15, p < .05) compared to products
that were bought new. Further, product care for access products is significantly lower than for second-
hand products (t(209) = -3.10, p < .01). Overall, accessed products are taken care of the least (Maccess =
3.78±1.44), while products that have been bought new (Mnew = 4.56±1.34) are being cared for the
most. Product care for second-hand products (Msecond-hand = 4.43±1.31) lies in between these values.
H2: The business model influences the product-related variables.
Our data shows that the business model has a significant effect on attachment (t(165) = -2.73, p < .01)
and disposal tendency (t(165) = -2.18, p < .05). This means that consumers have a high tendency to
dispose products they do not own (Maccess = 4.71±1.00); consumers might quit the access model, or
exchange the accessed product. Consumers tendency to discard second-hand products (Msecond-hand =
4.89±1.28) is slightly lower than for accessed products and even lower for products they bought new
(Mnew = 5.24±1.19). Further, consumers are more attached to washing machines and bicycles they
bought second-hand (Msecond-hand = 4.05±0.97) than to those they bought new (Mnew = 3.66±0.95) or to
which they have long-term access (Maccess = 3.16±0.99). The evaluations of quality, attitude,
involvement, satisfaction and usefulness are not significantly influenced by the business model, which
means that a positive evaluation of products is also possible for second-hand and accessed products.
H3: The product-related variables influence the level of product care.
All tested product-related variables influence product care on a significant level (attachment: (t(165) =
4.84, p < .01); attitude: (t(168) = 3.99, p < .01), disposal: (t(165) = 3.10, p < .01), involvement: (t(168)
= 4.74, p < .01); quality: (t(165) = 2.35, p < .05); satisfaction: (t(168) = 4.61, p < .01); usefulness:
(t(168) = 2.53, p < .05)). In general, the more positive a product is perceived by the consumer, the
more he/she will take care of it. This holds true for more objective variables such as quality and
usefulness, but also for emotional variables such as attachment, which is in accordance with previous
research (Mugge et al., 2005).
H4: The person-related variables influence the choice of business model.
Effect estimates for the person-related variables on the business models were on a significant level for
environmental concern (t(172) = 3.05, p < .01) and for frugality (t(172) = 2.08, p < .05), but not for
long-term orientation (t(172) = 0.08, p = .94) and use innovativeness (t(172) = 1.29, p = .20). This
means that consumers decide to use a long-term access model for reasons of sustainability, but also
because they expect a financial advantage of this business model compared to buying the product.
H5: The person-related variables influence the level of product care.
Long-term orientation (t(187)= 3.95, p < .01), frugality (t(187)= 3.07, p < .01), and use
innovativeness (t(187)= 4.58, p < .001) have a significant effect on product care. Use innovativeness
describes the tendency to use products in a creative way, to find new purposes for existing products
and to change products according to one’s needs. The relevance of use innovativeness can be
explained by Fogg’s (2009) behaviour model; to conduct a certain behaviour, motivation and ability
are needed. Consumers with a high level of use innovativeness are often very hands-on, and
experienced in craftsmanship, product care activities are thus easy to conduct for them. Long-term
orientation on the other hand serves as a strong motivator for product care as one part of a more
sustainable way of consumption.
Figure 2. Overview of the significant effects found during the regression analysis
Following the regression analysis, a path analysis was conducted. The model was built with product
care as the dependent variable and the choice of business model as the independent variable. The
product-related variables as well as the person-related variables were tested as moderator and mediator
variables. However, no significant moderator or mediator effects were found. We can thus conclude
that the above-mentioned direct effects estimates are suitable to describe our model.
5. Recommendations for designers
Our results show that consumer product care differs significantly between business models that
provide ownership and access. Although care levels for products bought second-hand were slightly
lower than for products that respondents had bought new, this difference was not significant. From the
results we deduct insights and recommendations for product and service designers. Three strategies
could help address lower levels of product care in AB-PSS, namely design for care, design to reduce
the need for care, and contractual conditions to stimulate care or penalise the lack thereof.
First, products placed in long-term AB-PSS should be designed to increase consumer product care. This
could be achieved by transferring the design strategies to stimulate product care for owned products
introduced earlier in this paper to AB-PSS. For example, the informing and enabling strategies could be
used to make product care easy for AB-PSS users and appropriation could be stimulated by designing
elements into AB-PSS to create attachment, for instance, temporarily customising the products (Tunn et
al., 2019). These strategies could increase product care and might also discourage frequent replacement
of accessed products, thereby mitigating potential rebound effects and helping AB-PSS providers to
ensure that the AB-PSS are financially viable. In general, providers of long-term AB-PSS should make it
as easy as possible for users to maintain and repair the products. This might be realised through an
accompanying service so that consumers do not have to organise care activities themselves or by
providing users with the appropriate tools and means. However, it is again important to ensure that
offered repair and maintenance services are not overused or lead to abuse of the products.
Second, product designers should consider the business model through which the products will be
used in the design phase and design for the anticipated level of product care. For example, products for
long-term AB-PSS should be designed to be especially durable, easy to repair, and maintain (see e.g.,
van Nes and Cramer, 2005), of high quality, sturdy, and long-lasting to withstand poor care. Thereby,
designers can ensure that AB-PSS actually improve sustainability (see Agarwal et al., 2012; Kjaer et
al., 2019). These sustainability benefits should be communicated to consumers because environmental
concern significantly influences consumers business model choice.
Third, consumer product care should also be considered when developing business models. Business
models can be implemented and designed to encourage consumers to take care of products. For
example, by offering incentives such as a financial refund if the consumer returns the product in a
good state Alternatively, the expected level of product care can be specified in the contract between
the AB-PSS provider and the users, penalising users if they do not take sufficient care of the products.
6. Discussion and conclusions
6.1. Summary of findings and contribution
The analysis of the collected consumer survey data showed that the levels of consumers
environmental concern influence their choice of business model. Business models impact consumers’
attachment to products which in turn influences product care. Further, consumers long-term
orientation and use innovativeness positively influence product care. In addition, the business model
influences consumers disposal tendency which influences the sustainability of long-term use AB-
PSS. If AB-PSS encourage consumers to use the service more or increase the frequency of product
replacement this can lead to rebound effects outweighing the sustainability benefits (Hertwich, 2005;
Zink and Geyer, 2017), in this case impacts of logistics, cleaning and potentially remanufacturing of
products for the next user can. AB-PSS may even heighten consumers expectations regarding the
state of the product so that no traces of use are acceptable and products and components become
obsolete sooner than in ownership. Business models influence the product-consumer relationship.
Circular business models such as AB-PSS change the consumer-product relationship often preventing
product attachment (Baxter and Childs, 2017) and as our findings demonstrate result in lower levels of
product care. Our results suggest that the ‘softbenefits of ownership that enhance product care, such
as product attachment, are lacking in AB-PSS. However, this is not the case for all circular business
models; consumers were even more attached to products they bought second-hand than to products
bought new and levels of consumer product care were nearly the same.
So far, research on product care in AB-PSS has been largely qualitative (e.g., Bardhi and Eckhardt,
2012) or conceptual (e.g., Tukker, 2004). While Agarwal et al. (2012) contrasted the sustainability of
leasing and sales business models and Schaefers et al. (2016) conducted a consumer survey to assess
behaviour in a hypothetical car sharing service, we are not aware of previous research that
quantitatively compared the levels of product care of actual users of circular and traditional business
models. We are contributing a quantitative study of consumer product care in different business
models that elucidates antecedents of product care and business model choice. Our findings
demonstrate that consumer product care varies among business models; being highest for products that
consumers bought new and lowest for accessed products. Therewith, these results quantitatively
confirm what Tukker (2004) theorised and Bardhi and Eckhardt (2012) found qualitatively.
Our research adds to the field of AB-PSS by explicating the relationship between business models,
consumer traits, product characteristics, and product care. We translated the findings into design
recommendations to stimulate product care in AB-PSS, which has so far only been done for owned
products (Ackermann et al., 2019). While the existing design strategies have often focused on the
relationship between consumers and products, design recommendations for AB-PSS also include
communication and aspects of the contract design, such as incentives.
6.2. Generalisability, limitations and future research
We found that consumer product care did not significantly differ between washing machines and
bicycles. Both products are durable, provide primarily functional value and product care is not
complex, the findings can thus be generalised for products with similar properties, such as
dishwashers. While the findings might not be applicable to products primarily providing emotional
value, previous literature has suggested that these products are generally unsuitable for AB-PSS
(Schrader, 1999; Stahel, 2010). Further, we can extrapolate from our findings that consumers’
product care levels are likely to be even lower in short-term AB-PSS because damages are harder to
retrace and can also be the result of vandalism by non-users. On top of that, consumers do not rely
on one specific product to obtain the desired functionality when using short-term AB-PSS; if one
accessed product is broken, consumers can easily access another one [see Schaefers et al. (2016) for
more insights into consumer product care in short-term AB-PSS]. Consumers are thus likely to feel
even less responsible for products accessed for a short time than for those used through long-term
There are several directions for future research. One the one hand, we recommend future studies with
larger, representative samples to allow for structural equation modeling, this could help to understand
the relations between the variables even better. This approach would also allow to explore additional
variables and constructs that might influence product care, such as the product’s price, social control
or other “soft” factors (e.g., psychological ownership). The effects of social connections and
awareness as well as consumer acceptance of products that take over control to ensure product care are
also interesting topics for future research. On the other hand, qualitative research could be added in
future studies to understand consumers’ decisions better and to inform the improvement of existing
AB-PSS. Finally, conducting a similar in another cultural context where AB-PSS are perceived
differently (Iran et al., 2019) could show whether culture also impacts consumer product care in AB-
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... First, our scale does not measure a behaviour but instead the tendency to conduct a behaviour. Although one study (Ackermann and Tunn, 2020) has already shown that our scale correlates with the frequency of conducted product care activities, it might be worth to explore the relationship between tendency and actual behaviour in future studies. Second, the scale provides an efficient way to assess product care tendency, but it does not allow to explore sources of motivation or attitudes in more depth. ...
... Third, another limitation of our research may be the limited representativeness of our convenience sample in Study 4. We believe that this does not undermine the value of our scale. In fact, our product care scale has been used in a recent publication (see Ackermann and Tunn, 2020) in which further support is given for the scale's likelihood to differentiate between groups on their tendency to take care of products. Despite these limitations, we believe that our scale provides a valid and helpful instrument for future research in the field of pro-environmental behaviour. ...
... It can also be used for research on product-service systems, in which products are often not owned by the consumer but rented (see also Tukker, 2015;Bocken, 2016;Elzinga et al., 2020). Consumers seem to take less care than for owned products than for rented ones (Ackermann and Tunn, 2020), and further research may explore the effect of ownership on product care in more depth. ...
Product care is defined as all activities initiated by consumers that encourage an extension of product lifetimes, such as repair, maintenance, and/or careful handling. A product care scale was developed and validated in a set of four related studies. In study 1, we asked experts to examine the face validity of a set of 35 items. In study 2, we reduced the initial set of items to 10 items using exploratory factor analysis. A subsequent confirmatory factor analysis supported a three-factor solution. Study 3, a nomological network study, demonstrated that the construct measured by our scale is related but still distinguishable from existing concepts, such as frugality, use innovativeness and attachment towards the product. Study 4 was a known-groups test with participants from two different countries and with various previous experiences in repairing. The final 10-item product care scale includes three factors: relevance, easiness and positive experience.
... This is generally not the case in fashion rental, where damaged products are common and the extent of damage may render a product unusable. Studies show that consumers show lower product care within PSSs compared to ownership, and do not consider that they bear any responsibility for wear and tear and hidden damages that result in a shortened lifespan of goods overall [4,33]. ...
... From a firm perspective, the system relies on consumer care of garments as well as adherence to rules regarding use (one user per 'rent') and return of goods. Prior literature argues that the level of care consumers exhibit toward access-based products compared to those they own is diminished [33]. Participants in this study were keenly aware of the level of customer trust required when purchasing stock, with some opting to moderate their garment selection based on a perception of low customer care: "Sometimes I refrain from buying stuff in that high price bracket because some people just don't care for it, because it's not theirs to clean up, it's quite upsetting [for me] as well" (Firm A). ...
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The research presented here illustrates the spectrum of fashion rental PSS firms and business strategies within the New Zealand fashion rental market. The evidence collected suggests that there is a market for fashion rental; however, this market is underdeveloped in regard to its potential as a benefit exchange medium that encourages alternative consumption practice. This study finds that there is, indeed, enormous potential in PSSs as a means to divert fashion-conscious consumers away from ownership behaviours; however, the current systems fall short of this goal. This study offers a taxonomy to create and develop fashion rental PSSs that achieve central aims of circular economy fashion systems, enhancing the collective, social aspects of access, value-sharing and continuing development of mutual gain within the system. It is anticipated that this taxonomy could be further refined and extended through research in other countries, including those with more established, larger fashion rental organisations. Further, there is potential for action research approaches to the design and analysis of alternative fashion rental PSSs.
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Access-based product-service systems (AB-PSS) are business models that can potentially decouple the satisfaction of consumer needs from environmental impacts. Hence, they have been promoted for the circular economy. Their sustainability potential has not yet been realised because consumer adoption is lagging. Although this challenge has been studied for two decades, knowledge to identify and address AB-PSS adoption barriers that matter to consumers is lacking. We hypothesise that the duration of use, the time a consumer obtains exclusive access to a specific product (short-term vs long-term), and the type of product (bicycles vs clothing) moderate the importance of AB-PSS adoption barriers to consumers. We compared several adoption barriers across four AB-PSS and found that the duration of use and the type of product significantly moderated the importance of some AB-PSS adoption barriers. More specifically, the Effort to access has a higher influence on consumer preference for short-term AB-PSS whereas Product quality has a higher influence on consumer preference for long-term AB-PSS. We also found that Effort to access and Product characteristics were more important for bicycle AB-PSS whereas Contamination and Product quality were more important for clothing AB-PSS. These insights help companies to identify and design out key AB-PSS consumer adoption barriers.
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Product-service systems (PSSs) are seen as valuable facilitators of a circular economy (CE) on a business level. However, that PSSs contribute to a CE is not a given and is determined by the chosen PSS business model and strategy applied throughout the entire lifecycle. Thus, in order to support companies in implementing circular business models such as PSSs, an increasing number of frameworks and methods have been proposed in prior research. This article hypothesizes that many industrial companies are expanding to become PSS providers with neither such support nor a strong sustainability focus. There is a gap in the literature regarding the potential contribution of such PSSs to a CE. Thus, the research reported aims to provide initial insight regarding whether unintended circularity, i.e., an unintended contribution to a CE, may occur when becoming a PSS provider. Applying and adapting an existing framework for the assessment of PSSs’ potential contribution to a CE, the use-oriented PSS of an industrial company was assessed in-depth. Results regarding the relative resource reduction and the prospect of achieving absolute resource decoupling are reported and discussed. While relative improvements over product sales are identified, e.g., resulting from end-of-life efforts on reuse and remanufacturing, opportunities for additional enhancement are found, e.g., in adjustments of the PSS design process. Concerning absolute resource decoupling, a fundamental challenge lies in the use-oriented PSS’s dependency on an increasing number of physical components as the company’s business expands. This article advances the discussion on PSSs’ potential contributions to a CE with an in-depth empirical study. For practitioners, the results reported expand on important aspects of efficient and effective PSS provision throughout the lifecycle.
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Access-based product-service systems (AB-PSS) have the potential to lower environmental impacts. Currently, a lack of consumer acceptance and, consequently, low adoption levels of AB-PSS are challenges preventing the realisation of their sustainability potential. This study proposes temporary product customisation to lower barriers for the acceptance of AB-PSS. We investigated whether customisation through modifying the appearance of an easily changeable attribute of a typical product, and thereby changing the product personality, could improve consumer acceptance while limiting the impact on sustainability. To explore this, a 3 × 1 between-group design experiment was conducted with consumers who are familiar with offerings similar to the AB-PSS we tested. The results indicate that respondents have a strong preference, as is widely recognised, for typical products in an AB-PSS. Infusing meaning and intangible value into accessed products through customisation can simultaneously lead to wider acceptance in the market and individual consumers’ satisfaction. Our findings confirm that consumer acceptance increases if a product fulfils intangible needs along with functionality needs. The results can be used to think about new ways in which product design can enhance the diffusion of AB-PSS in the consumer market.
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Shifting away from ownership towards access-based consumption, innovative new business models known as product-service systems (PSS) are advocated as part of a more circular, resource efficient economy. With product ownership (and responsibility for repair) remaining with providers, pay-per-use services are promoted as one such model, which can both increase product longevity and reduce the ‘burdens of ownership’ on consumers. However, PSS also require public acceptance of access-based consumption, including the long-term use of non-owned products and a range of accompanying contractual obligations. We conducted a series of deliberative workshops with the public, aiming to explore the concept of pay-per-use PSS and the role that concerns about ownership and responsibility may have in determining public acceptance. Rather than focusing on innate desires for product ownership, we found that participants’ concerns regarding pay-per-use PSS were usually related to wider fears surrounding the risks and responsibilities of entering into contract-based service agreements. Identifying four public narratives of service provision (Ownership and convenience; Risk and responsibility; Affordability and security; Care and control), we argue that successful introduction of PSS will only be possible if careful consideration is given to deeply held values pertaining to ownership, responsibility and trust that influence such cultural understandings.
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Product/service-systems (PSS) that focus on selling service and performance instead of products are often mentioned as means to realize a circular economy (CE), in which economic growth is decoupled from resource consumption. However, a PSS is no implicit guarantee for a CE, and CE strategies do not necessarily lead to decoupling economic growth from resource consumption in absolute terms. Absolute resource decoupling only occurs when the resource use declines, irrespective of the growth rate of the economic driver. In this forum paper, we propose a two-step framework that aims to support analyses of PSS and their potential to lead to absolute resource decoupling. In the first step, we present four PSS enablers of relative resource reduction that qualify as CE strategies. In the second step, three subsequent requirements need to be met, in order to successfully achieve absolute resource decoupling. Conditions and limitations for this accomplishment are discussed. Danish textile cases are used to exemplify the framework elements and its application. We expect that the framework will challenge the debate on the necessary conditions for CE strategies to ensure absolute resource decoupling.
Collaborative fashion consumption as a possible path towards more sustainable clothing has taken different forms all around the world. However, it has been differently received in different cultures. Collaborative fashion practices and initiatives have not been deeply studied in the academic literature. Employing a quantitative comparative study between Tehran and Berlin, the theory of planned behavior is tested for the case of collaborative fashion consumption in a cross-cultural context. The Hofstede's national cultural factors are used to explain the differences between two cultures. The results of this study show that attitude, social norms and perceived behavioral control are relevant predictors of the intention to adopt collaborative fashion consumption. The degree of this is found to have a high influence on the actual consumption, while there is no direct influence of perceived behavior control on the collaborative fashion consumption. Moreover, the results show that the predictors of intention towards collaborative fashion consumption are different in two cultures and some of them display significant differences. For instance, in Tehran attitude is found to be the most important factor influencing the intention towards collaborative fashion consumption while in Berlin perceived behavior control is found to be the most important predictor of this intention. Besides, all the elements of the theory of planned behavior, the influence of the intention towards collaborative fashion consumption on actual behavior, and preferences for its different forms differ between Iranian and German culture. Some of these differences can be explained using Hofstede's cultural factors.
The authors expand and integrate prior price-perceived value models within the context of price comparison advertising. More specifically, the conceptual model explicates the effects of advertised selling and reference prices on buyers’ internal reference prices, perceptions of quality, acquisition value, transaction value, and purchase and search intentions. Two experimental studies test the conceptual model. The results across these two studies, both individually and combined, support the hypothesis that buyers’ internal reference prices are influenced by both advertised selling and reference prices as well as the buyers’ perception of the product's quality. The authors also find that the effect of advertised selling price on buyers’ acquisition value was mediated by their perceptions of transaction value. In addition, the effects of perceived transaction value on buyers’ behavioral intentions were mediated by their acquisition value perceptions. The authors suggest directions for further research and implications for managers.
Product care is defined as all activities initiated by the consumer that lead to the extension of a product's lifetime. This research contributes to the literature by taking a consumer's perspective on product care, which is essential to postpone product replacement. We used Fogg's behaviour model as a theoretical framework to understand consumers' motivation, ability and triggers related to product care. Based on this, 15 in-depth interviews were conducted to explore consumers' current product care behaviour. Our findings show that many consumers are generally motivated to take care of their products, for example because they appreciate the product's functionality or because they are generally keen to consume in a sustainable way. They even have the right knowledge and tools or are at least motivated to get them. What is often missing are triggers that push people to take care of their products. Triggers can increase consumers' motivation or ability, for example by giving necessary tools to the consumer or by a helpful service offer. We also give suggestions for the practical implementation of our findings to support companies interested in a shift towards the Circular Economy.
With proliferation of web surveys, the relative affordability of recruitment, and increasing nonresponse in other survey modes, nonprobability methods are increasingly being considered by researchers and government offices alike. However, research needs to more fully understand how the demographic characteristics of respondents may depend heavily on the source of sample, mode of recruitment, and context of the survey experience. As a first step in exploring the potential implications of recruitment source on response quality, we use data from a web survey fielded in 2013 to compare data quality indicators in survey data from the two recruitment platforms (Google and Facebook advertisements). In so doing, taking into account demographic differences that may arise from various steps in the recruitment process, we explore the effect of demographics, device and technology usage, incentives, and recruitment platform on data quality and response strategy. Our results show differences between platforms in comparability to national benchmarks, breakoffs, completion time, nonsubstantive answers, and numeric response strategies. Importantly, some variation in substantive responses was explained by demographic differences related to mobile device usage, which varied by recruitment platform. With the use of nonprobability samples on the rise, future work should build from these results to more directly assess the role of recruitment source in data quality.