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Changing purchasing behavior: How sustainably do we really consume?

Circular economy, refurbishment and shared economy in the electronics industry: How are electronic devices used and how important is the topic of sustainability?
Published 25 Oct 2023
PR Report - Electronics and sustainability

Rostock, October 25, 2023 - Sustainable aspects in all areas of life and consumption have become more important and have become purchasing arguments - including and especially when it comes to electronic devices. More and more people are consciously engaging with manufacturers and actively collecting information before making a purchase decision. However, there is still a discrepancy between expectations and reality: although sustainability is highly valued as an issue, most respondents tend to buy electronic devices rather than rent them. There is hardly any shared economy here so far. These are some of the core results of the current study on “Circular Economy, Refurbishment and Shared Economy in the Electronics Industry” by the insurance startup hepster.

Hanna Bachmann, co-founder and CRO of hepster, says: "Our results indicate that awareness of sustainable electronics consumption has increased. However, a direct influence on the real purchase decision is hardly recognizable. A fundamental change - for some ", especially hoped for by generations Z and Y - is still a long way off. The situation looks a little more hopeful when it comes to purchasing behaviour when it comes to (e-)bikes."

Shared economy - known but rarely used

Despite the postulated sustainability, many consumers always want to have the latest electronic product from their favourite manufacturer in their hands - namely their device. The topic of shared economy, which is so much pushed in the media, hardly takes place when it comes to electronics: only 11 per cent of those surveyed have already rented or borrowed such a device. 64 per cent are not at all interested in borrowing and renting, and 25 per cent are not even aware of such offers.

After all, 44 per cent of respondents across all device groups buy refurbished goods - another important element of the circular economy. However, 56 per cent only purchase new devices. Of those who purchase refurbished devices, 40 per cent choose a smartphone, 30 per cent choose a tablet and 19 per cent choose a laptop.

A crucial aspect when it comes to sustainability is the question of how long the devices are used or owned. When it comes to smartphones/cell phones, the focus is between one and three years at 53 per cent, with only a further 17 per cent using them between three and five years. A total of 70 per cent buy a new cell phone after five years at the latest, and more than half after three years at the latest. Nevertheless, the majority of consumers (60 per cent) emphasize that sustainability and environmental protection are important or very important to them.

Role model: (e-)bike industry

The bike market is much more sustainable - not just in terms of settings, but also in reality. Not least due to changing consumer behaviour, various business models have been established in the bicycle industry. One of the oldest is bicycle rental. The use of the individual options has increased again compared to 2020, as hepster's BIKE & SUSTAINABILITY REPORT 2023 has shown. The use of mobility offers:

  • Sharing / public bike rental 24.5%
  • Rental/situational, daily 19.5%
  • Subscription / long-term rental 5.4%

Hanna Bachmann, co-founder and CRO of hepster, concludes: "Our findings make it clear that awareness of sustainable electronics consumption is increasing. However, a direct influence on actual purchasing decisions remains limited so far. The hoped-for profound change, especially among the younger generation Generation, is not yet recognizable. However, a more positive outlook can be seen in purchasing behaviour in the bicycle sector, where words and actions correspond more closely. We will continue to work to raise awareness of sustainable consumption and to develop solutions that are useful to our customers as well benefit the environment."

You can find more information in the current hepster report: "Circular economy, refurbishment and shared economy in the electronics industry: How are electronic devices used and how important is the topic of sustainability?". (German version only)

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