Consumer influence on product life : An explorative study.

EVANS, Sian Marie. (2005). Consumer influence on product life : An explorative study. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom)..

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Abstract

In recent years the sustainability of consumption levels within industrialised countries has been increasingly challenged. The contribution of consumption to escalating volumes of waste and pollution coupled with the threat of resource scarcity and exhaustion, have lead to global political consensus concerning the requirement to tackle this critical issue. The optimisation of product life has been identified as one of several strategies that could be employed to resolve these problems. The focus of the majority of studies relating to product life spans concern issues of production and economics, such as technical durability and the effect of market structures. Scant attention has been paid to consequent consumption. This thesis investigates consumers' influence on product life across the consumption cycle, using Sheffield as a case study. It represents the first exploration in the UK of its type. The thesis draws together the many disparate pieces of relevant research identified during the literature review to construct a new comprehensive conceptual framework for exploring the consumption life cycle of products from the consumer perspective. This framework was then used to structure the collection of data, which encompassed a combination of mail surveys and semi-structured interviews. The data collected were used to evaluate how different patterns of consumption across acquisition, ownership and disposal influence the service life of three domestic products, including everyday footwear, big kitchen appliances and upholstered chairs. This included the development of a new methodology for measuring consumer optimisation of product life. The research also sought explanations for differences in patterns of consumption and consequent variations in service life. The results reveal substantial differences in the patterns of consumption both between categories of product and across the different stages of the consumption process. They indicate that the service lives of everyday footwear and upholstered chairs are notably more susceptible to consumer influence than large kitchen appliances, and that people are more optimising of product life spans in disposal than in acquisition or ownership.The findings demonstrate that a wide range of factors affect consumers' influence on product life spans, which were classified under the headings; personal, social / situational and product characteristics. The research discovered that the nature and influence of factors is highly complex. A large combination of factors operates simultaneously, they are dynamic over time, and the strength of their impact fluctuates on the basis of interdependencies within the system, and in response to external signals. On the basis of the research findings, the main barriers to consumer optimisation of product life spans were evaluated and their implications and possible solutions were discussed. This thesis demonstrates that consumers play a critical role in the life span of domestic products and that their inclusion in policies to tackle sustainable consumption is imperative.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: Thesis (Ph.D.)--Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom), 2005.
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2018 17:19
Last Modified: 09 May 2018 14:57
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/19633

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