Enhancing product repairability through sustainable business models. An assessment of the 'consumer repair journey', business management and future legislation

Dao, T., 2022. Enhancing product repairability through sustainable business models. An assessment of the 'consumer repair journey', business management and future legislation. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

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The current linear economic model has created low-priced and on-trend products but at the cost of shaping lifestyles that demand fast and unsustainable consumption. Product repair, the process of maintaining the functionality of items by correcting a defect should, in theory, improve resource security and material efficiency. The transformation of current repair practices requires the comprehensive engagement of consumers and different business stakeholders, including manufacturers, retailers and repair service providers. In particular, the repair journey that consumers go through when deciding whether or not to fix an item involves a set of complex decisions and actions. Moreover, each manufacturer, retailer or brand may have its own strategy towards keeping up with – and gaining competitive advantage from – improvements in technology, changes in fashion, consumer demand and cost-efficiency. This PhD aimed to (i) identify influences upon the 'repair journeys' that consumers go through when deciding whether or not to fix a faulty item and (ii) determine how businesses could support consumers in their repair journeys, particularly through business innovation for product repairability.

Consumer focus groups and in-depth business interviews were employed. Four consumer groups provided insights into consumers' repair journeys, which comprise an identification of product faults and repair need, information search and evaluation of alternatives, repair in action and post-repair evaluation. These group discussions revealed the complexity of the consumer repair journey and the significance of current business practices during it. In particular, the factors influencing consumers' intentions, their translations into behaviours and the need for support from businesses at each stage of the repair journey were identified. Interviews were conducted with 21 companies that manufacture or sell products or provide aftersales services, in three product sectors - clothing, furniture, and electrical and electronic equipment. These identified opportunities for and challenges to sustainable business innovations intended to promote repairable products and repair services. Business support needs from government were then explored, followed by proposals for future legislation. The data collected were transcribed by the author and then coded and thematically analysed using NVivo software.

The research firstly demonstrates novel use of the Theory of Planned Behaviour, intention-behaviour gap concept and buying decision process to study consumers' repair journeys. This contributes to understanding the importance of product design, the provision of repair information and spare parts, and the quality of aftersales services in intentions to repair and their translation into behaviour at each stage of repair journeys.

Secondly, the findings explain the requirements for sustainable business model innovation beyond product repairability as a part of companies' strategic development and business management. They also provide directions for business practitioners to consider interventions that go beyond design strategies and product features, supportive services during the use of products, and consumers' repair journeys. As a result, the findings can help business stakeholders to structure their sustainable activities more effectively and anticipate key challenges through collaboration between business stakeholders and customer-focused innovation.

Finally, a contribution is made to understanding potential implications of future policies which aim at influencing or supporting behaviour changes during consumers' repair journeys and business model innovation, with reference to the Right to Repair and the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Dao, T.
Date: 2022
Rights: This work is the intellectual property of Tung Dao. Up to 5% of this work may be copied for private study, or personal, non-commercial research. Any re-use of the information contained within this document should be fully referenced, quoting the author, title, university degree level and pagination. Queries or requests for any other use, or if a more substantial copy is required, should be directed to the owner of the Intellectual Property Rights.
Divisions: Schools > School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 19 Oct 2022 14:33
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2022 14:33
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/47278

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