Customers tend to buy more durable goods
Proper labelling of long-lasting products can increase sales
Maria Koleva, Brussels
1 April, 2016
Products labelled as long-lasting, such as suitcases and printers, would see a huge boost in sales, by 128% and 70% respectively, shows a study named “The influence of Lifespan Labelling on Consumers”, that EESC published on 29 March. This also applies to smartphones with an increase of 41% in sales for products as far as a longer lifespan is read. According to the authors, the importance of the product lifetime to consumers increases in proportion to the amount consumers are prepared to spend. The study, which is produced jointly by a research consortium composed of Sircome agency and the University of South Brittany both of France, and the University of South Bohemia of the Czech Republic, analysed how by displaying the lifespan of products, and also the ways in which this information is displayed, influenced consumers' buying intentions. The countries where the study was conducted are Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Spain, and the Netherlands. According to the analysis, the labelling types matter as it found that from A to G ranking, along the lines of the energy consumption model, is the most effective and when displayed can increase sales by 84%. People on low incomes are more likely to fall victim to planned obsolescence, as they often have to purchase cheaper products that are more unreliable, study results highlight. Ninety percent of the overall 3,000 participants involved in the study expressed willingness to pay on average €102 more for a dishwasher that would last two years longer or in total between €300 and €500. Thus Europeans clearly demonstrate their opposition to planned obsolescence. From the counties’ perspective, French participants are the most sensitive to the lifetime information displayed on products with their aptitude for 118% increase in sales, while for Belgian and Dutch the increase is 45%, for Czech 39% and Spanish participants 32%.According to Thierry Libaert, rapporteur for the EESC opinion “Towards more sustainable consumption: industrial product lifetimes and restoring trust through consumer information” adopted about three years ago, this first European study shows beyond any doubt that the issue of planned obsolescence is not so much due to obsolescence being planned. It is due to consumers not having enough information about products’ lifespan, he asserted adding that putting consumers at the centre of things by improving the information they have about the products they buy is important in terms of the economy, society and the environment, as well as being a key catalyst for restoring business confidence. As Sircome CEO and study manager Mathieu Jahnich pointed out, the display of lifetime information of products has a significant influence on consumers' purchasing intentions. Certain labels are more effective than others. The best match, according to him, would be full information about the absolute lifetime and an easily understandable, probably visual, illustration of it on a label, he opined.
Ninety percents of the participants involved in the study expressed willingness to pay on average €102 more for a dishwasher that would last two years longer.