Sunday, May 15, 2005


from products to services

Following on my recent posting about turning products into services, I have come across a good discussion of the issue by Tim Cooper and Sian Evans of the Centre for Sustainable Consumption, at Sheffield Hallam University. They see six areas of opportunity:
1 Design: From planned obsolescence to sustainable product design
2 After-sales support: From short term guarantee to comprehensive after-sales support
3 Form of contract: From ownership to eco-leasing
4 Mode of consumption: From individual consumption to collective consumption
5 Need: From dependence to reduced need
6 Sales revenue: From output maximisation to least cost supply

The paper contains a discussion of reasons for the increase in the consumption of products, though I think it over-emphasizes status reasons and doesn't consider fully more pragmatic ones. One shortcoming of green thinking, IMHO, is an over-emphasis on "lifestyle." People who currently choose to reduce consumption may do so as part of their lifestyle, as a statement of who they are and how they wish to be seen. But I don't know that that attitude will scale up. My feeling is that for complex reasons, the desire to make statements of social status, and susceptibility to social pressure, have been greatly reduced over the past three t0 four decades in affluent West. I therefore believe that cost and convenience need to be addressed foremost, with incentives devised to address any perceived inconvenience.

Even if I don't agree with every bit of emphasis, I believe the paper is important and deserves a wide reading.
Link: Products to Services (PDF)

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