“‘Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work’ Peter Druker is quoted as saying but I have found that in many cases, intentions cannot materialise into actual behaviour,” says Tung Dao, a PhD Research Student at Nottingham Trent University who has been helped by a RADMA grant.
“For example, a consumer may intend to repair but then end up with a replacement. Identifying the intention-behaviour gaps helps to explain the interrelation between consumers’ plans and actions. This may include a wide range of variation in intentions and behaviours, and series of the translation of plans into actions.
“Both internal and external factors can either foster, hinder or interrupt the translation. The former relates to characteristics of consumers, such as competences, ages and genders. The latter includes characteristics of products and repair services.
“Understanding these factors help to identify touchpoints where businesses can support consumers to bridge and eliminate the gaps.”
Tung Dao is a student in the School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment, Sustainable Consumption Research Group and he is grateful to the support of RADMA.
He says: It was an honour to receive RADMA support for my PhD project. In particular, the funding has significantly supported my data collection activities. This included three consumer focus groups and five business interviews in London.
“The fund has played a crucial role in enabling me to recruit participants for the focus groups and to support the investigator’s travel and accommodation for interviews with five repair shops and companies.
“40 is a really BIG number. Congratulations to RADMA. I wholeheartedly appreciate your great support; it’s a big honour.”
“RADMA has been an influential activist and supporter that remarkably inspires and helps learners and early-stage researchers to pursue and undertake their research passion; and an essential connector that provides the network and platform of disseminating findings.”
Consumer behaviours impact business model innovation
“Current and proposed business models assume that businesses are able to facilitate the realisation of ethical intentions.
“My research is an explorative project aims to capture thinking and practices from the viewpoint of different stakeholders involved in repair activities.
“By capturing a comprehensive understanding of consumers’ repair decision we have been able to propose a consumers’ journey that identifies and maps the gap between intentions and actual behaviour.”
Shift from high-volume sales to longevity
Tung’s PhD project has involved six focus groups with consumers and about twenty business interviews within the UK of stakeholders including manufacturers, retailers, repair companies and shops.
The findings of business innovation that support repair practices would be presented at Product Lifetimes and The Environment (PLATE) conference in Berlin (if the paper abstract is accepted).
The paper investigates whether and how stakeholders might use product repairability as a driver for business model innovation.
A potential approach could be shifting from the traditional model of high-volume sales to one in which products are designed for longevity, with after-sales services forming a greater part of the business. This paper then analyses how the proposed model will affect the stakeholders’ existing strategies and their collaboration with the others, including individual and shared opportunities, challenges and trade-offs when the business model shifting takes place.
The findings provide evidence for business stakeholders interested in developing commercial repair as a form of business model innovation, and for policymakers to regulate and support commercial repair.
The knowledge emerged from this study is also expected to contribute to generating policy instruments to stimulate engagement of consumers and business stakeholders in repair practices.
An unexpected finding – diversity of strategy to achieve same objective
“Business model innovation, in theory, is an important level for creating sustainable strategies. Innovative business models are often expected to generate both profits and differentiation advantage,” Tung observes. “However, diverse stakeholders engage in commercial repair activities, including suppliers, manufacturers, retailers and repair companies. These appear to have different strategies towards keeping up with – and gaining competitive advantage from – improvements in technology, changes in fashion, consumer demand and cost efficiency.
“One example is Fair Phone, it pioneers the manufacturing of durable and repairable phones, but they have to face ‘potential risks on a weekly basis’ due to non-cooperation of their (sub-)suppliers. The threats may relate to the uncertainty of spare parts availability and prices, the compatibility of software updates and components.”
“My research objectives and the second topic of RADMA funding are a good match in focusing on business and product design innovation, especially in promoting sustainable production and consumption.
“The research provides evidence of possibility and potential of the shifting from the traditional business model of high-volume sales to one in which products were designed for repair and after-sales services formed a greater part of the business. The innovation appears to not only reduce the use of materials and resources, but also avoid overconsumption and planned obsolescence.
“Innovated models are expected to generate profit potential, customer loyalty and enhance brand reputation.”
Interesting further reading
“If this subject is of interest then I would be really pleased to recommend a book chapter from my supervisor – Prof. Tim Cooper and his colleague, and the most recently fascinating report of European Commission in 2018:
Cooper, T., and Salvia, G., 2018. Fix it: Barriers to repair and opportunities for change. In R. Crocker (Ed.), Reuse in an accelerated world: mining the past to reshape the future. Abingdon: Routledge.
European Commission, 2018. Behavioural Study on Consumers’ Engagement in the Circular Economy. Available at https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/ec_circular_economy_final_report_0.pdf [Accessed on 20/12/2018]