The joy of vacuuming? How the user experience affects vacuum cleaner longevity

Harmer, L., Cooper, T. ORCID: 0000-0001-8623-2918, Fisher, T. ORCID: 0000-0003-2565-8805, Salvia, G. and Barr, C., 2015. The joy of vacuuming? How the user experience affects vacuum cleaner longevity. In: T. Cooper ORCID: 0000-0001-8623-2918, N. Braithwaite, M. Moreno and G. Salvia, eds., Product Lifetimes and the Environment (PLATE) Conference proceedings, [Nottingham Trent University], Nottingham, 17-19 June 2015. Nottingham: Nottingham Trent University: CADBE, pp. 138-145. ISBN 9780957600997


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An apparent reduction in the average lifetime of vacuum cleaners is explored in this paper in relation to their perceived usability and increasingly frequent product replacement. Motivations for product disposal combine perceived and real product failure with a perceived or real improved product offer. From an historical perspective, vacuum cleaners typify this pattern, continually offering a ‘cheaper and improved’ product. Vacuum cleaner manufacturers reinvigorate the sense of satisfaction and revulsion associated with extracting dirt from our homes through new performance focused product development. For example, increased motor power, filtration, bag-less machines and clear bin compartments have all acted as sales drivers, whilst cost effective materials and offshore and more efficient manufacturing have reduced purchase prices. The latter, cost-driven, processes can create machines that are more likely to be functionally and aesthetically damaged in use, reinforcing the trend for faster replacement. The market appears likely to continue to focus on improved user experience, with growth in market share for lighter weight cordless battery powered machines posing the risk of an increased environmental burden. Drawing from qualitative and quantitative research undertaken for a study for Defra, we explore the user’s relationship to the product, investigating the frustrations and joys of vacuum cleaner use and ownership. The findings illustrate that the revulsion and attraction of cleaning, as well as the tedium and satisfaction fostered by the product, have direct implications for vacuum cleaner longevity.

Item Type: Chapter in book
Alternative Title: Proceedings of the Product Lifetimes and the Environment Conference, 17-19 June 2015
Proceedings of the PLATE Conference, 17-19 June 2015
Creators: Harmer, L., Cooper, T., Fisher, T., Salvia, G. and Barr, C.
Publisher: Nottingham Trent University: CADBE
Place of Publication: Nottingham
Date: 2015
ISBN: 9780957600997
Rights: [© Nottingham Trent University 2015].
cc Proceedings are under a Creative Common License Number CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 (
Divisions: Schools > School of Art and Design
Schools > School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment
Record created by: EPrints Services
Date Added: 09 Oct 2015 10:23
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2017 14:24

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