Understanding consumer decision-making for re-use and repair

Research suggests communicators will need to consider ways of opening consumers’ minds to the possibility of change and to seize opportunities to engage with consumers when they are most likely to be heard (i.e. when consumers are in the process of actively seeking information or undertaking a behaviour). 

Understanding consumer decision-making for re-use and repair

In March 2013 WRAP commissioned Brook Lyndhurst and Icaro Consulting to undertake a programme of research that was to inform the development of communications tools that encourage and enable consumers to re-use and repair household items.  The research, which was undertaken across the UK, considered how communications influence consumer decision-making with respect to acquisition, disposal and repair of household items. 

The research was mainly concerned with behaviours relating to textiles, furniture and electrical items.

These results suggest that it is unlikely consumers will consider new behaviours or actively seek out new information at the start of a decision-making journey. This represents a highly significant challenge for those communicating about re-use and repair.  The research findings suggest communicators will need to consider ways of opening consumers’ minds to the possibility of change and they will need to seize opportunities to engage with consumers when they are most likely to be heard (i.e. when consumers are in the process of actively seeking information or undertaking a behaviour).     

In summary, the research findings show that it is important for communicators to recognise the influence of contextual factors on consumer decision-making and to develop strategies that overcome barriers associated with them.   

3Rs Tracking Survey Re-use and repair summary 2014 and 2015

The 3Rs survey (previously the Recycle Now survey) has been a staple of WRAP’s research portfolio for nearly a decade, initially focusing on recycling and expanding in recent years to also cover re-use and repair. 

These two reports from 2014 and 2015 present key highlights from the re-use and repair section of the survey. Together with its sister report on recycling, it forms a trilogy of quick-reference documents that summarise the key findings that have implications for both policy and practice.

Key highlights (2015) include

  • Levels of discard remain broadly consistent with previous years, with 77% of households discarding clothing or textiles and 44% electrical/electronic items.
  • The use of the HWRC as a disposal route has decreased significantly since 2013 for both electricals and furniture. It remains an important route, but no longer dominates. For large appliances, product take-back is the most frequently used route; for clothing, charity donation and collection are the most frequently used.
  • As in 2013 and 2014, reasons for not using a re-use route when discarding unwanted household items focus on the perception that the item is broken beyond repair or of no use to anyone else. Householders are most likely to choose to dispose of items rather than trying to repair them because they perceive that it would not have been cost effective and/or it was time for the product to be replaced anyway.
  • A preference for buying new is the primary reason for not buying second hand – followed by significant barriers around choice/availability, perceived quality, safety and cleanliness.

 Please register below to download the reports

  1. Understanding consumer decision-making for re-use and repair
  2. 3Rs Tracking Survey, 2015
  3. 3Rs Tracking Survey, 2014