New EU-study: Sales increase when products are labelled “long-lasting”

Europeans have clearly demonstrated their opposition to planned obsolescence. Consumers are generally in favour of products that are guaranteed to last longer.

This was clearly demonstrated in study released today (29 March) by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), entitled "The influence of Lifespan Labelling on Consumers". EESC is a consultative body of the European Union.

The study was carried out in Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Spain, and the Netherlands, involving nearly 3 000 participants. It analysed how simply displaying the lifespan of products – as well as the ways in which this information is displayed – influences consumers' buying intentions.

And it's very clear: products labelled as long-lasting, such as suitcases and printers, would see a huge boost in sales, by 128 % and 70% respectively. Smartphones are markedly affected, with an increase of 41% on sales for products indicating a longer lifespan. Interestingly, the importance of the product lifetime to consumers increases in proportion to the amount consumers are prepared to spend.

90% of the study respondents said that they would be prepared to pay more for a dishwasher that would last two years longer. On average, they said they would be prepared to pay EUR 102 more for that guarantee on a dishwasher priced between EUR 300 and 500.

The study shows the sensitivity to information on lifetime varies by nationality with French consumers being most affected.

Labelling typesmatter. The ranking from A to G (along the lines of the energy consumption model) is the most effective format and can increase sales by 84% - when on display.

The study highlights the social dimension of programmed obsolescence, with people on low incomes being more likely to fall victim to planned obsolescence, as they often have to purchase cheaper products that are more unreliable.

An overwhelming majority of the respondents think that the producers have a very high responsibility for the lifetime of a product.

The EESC advocates obliging manufacturers to bear the recycling costs of products lasting less than five years. It calls on the European Commission to draft EU-wide legislation on planned obsolescence, recommends that industry establish voluntary certification schemes and urges Europeans to mobilize and campaign for change.

The Brussels Times (Source: EESC)

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