Behavioural Study on Consumers’ Engagement in the Circular Economy – October 2018

Sector:
Client: european-commission-consumers-health-food-executive-agency-chafea
Published: October, 2018
Document type: Report 
Tagged: behavioural behavioural and experimental consumer behaviour EU experiments

The objective of this study was to provide policy-relevant insights on consumers’ engagement in the circular economy. The study involved several research tasks including a literature review across all EU countries as well as third countries, stakeholder interviews, consumer focus groups in 4 EU countries, an online consumer survey in 12 EU countries and an online behavioural experiment in 6 EU countries.

Overall, all strands of research found that consumers were generally willing to engage in circular economy practices. But actual engagement was rather low. While a majority of consumers repair products (64%), a substantial share have not repaired products in the past (36%), and/or have no experience renting/leasing or buying second hand products (~90%).

A reason for this low engagement in circular economy practices could be that consumers lack information regarding product durability and reparability as well as the lack of sufficiently developed markets (e.g. for second hand products, renting, leasing or sharing services etc.).

In the behavioural experiment the provision of such information was found to be highly effective at shifting purchasing decisions towards products with greater durability and reparability. The survey and experiment also found that repair decisions are easily disrupted if arranging repair requires effort.

The findings indicate that there is a large potential to close the gap between consumers’ willingness to engage and their actual engagement. The study makes several policy recommendations to further enhance consumers’ engagement in the circular economy.