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Refurbished mobile phones: consumer perceptions and how to increase uptake

March 3, 2016

Refurbished mobile phones: consumer perceptions and how to increase uptake

A recent survey of Dutch mobile phone owners has identified why some consumers buy refurbished mobile phones while others buy new ones.
Some consumers perceived refurbished phones to be inferior, which was a major barrier to their purchase. The study’s authors make a number of recommendations to increase consumer uptake of refurbished mobile phones, including promoting the financial and environmental benefits and offering warranties.

In a circular economy, the life of consumer goods is extended by recovering, repairing and re-using already-used products. This cycle reduces waste and use of precious resources. The concept is at the heart of the EU’s drive towards sustainable consumption and production and is the basis for the EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy.

This study explored consumer perceptions of refurbished mobile phones. The researchers conducted 20 semi-structured interviews with Dutch mobile phone users. Ten participants had recently purchased a refurbished mobile phone (defined as ‘a used phone, which is collected, restored, updated and resold by a professional company’) and 10 had purchased new phones of the same brand as the refurbished phones.

Based on a theoretical model of the consumer decision-making process, the researchers analysed the interviews to look for patterns that might reveal what drives people to choose new and refurbished products.

Read more at "Science for Environment Policy": European Commission DG Environment News Alert Service, edited by SCU, The University of the West of England, Bristol.


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