Wielopolski, Mateusz; Guerreschi, Asia

Circular Economy, as the counterargument to the ‘make-take-dispose’ linear model, is anapproach that includes a variety of schools of thoughts looking at environmental, economic, andsocial sustainability. This, in turn, leads to a variety of strategies and often confusion when itcomes to choosing the right one to make a circular transition as effective as possible. Due to theclose interplay of circular product design, business model and social responsibility, companiesoften struggle to develop strategies that comply with all three triple-bottom-line criteria. Hence,to transition to circularity effectively, product design approaches must become more inclusive. In a case study conducted with the University of Bayreuth and the ISPO, we correlated aspects ofmaterial choice in product design, labeling and technological innovation with customerpreferences and education about specific material and technology features. The study revealedthose attributes of the consumers’ environmental awareness that directly translate into anincrease of purchase power – primarily connected with individual preferences regarding the sportactivity and technical knowledge. Based on this outcome, we constituted a product development approach that incorporates theconsumers’ individual preferences towards sustainable product features as well as theirawareness about materials and technology. It allows deploying targeted customer educationcampaigns to raise the willingness to pay for sustainability. Next, we implemented the customerpreference and education analysis into a circularity assessment tool that takes into accountinherent company assets as well as subjective parameters like customer awareness. The outcomeis a detailed but not cumbersome scoring system, which provides guidance for material andtechnology choices for circular product design, while considering business model andcommunication strategy to the attentive customers. By including customer knowledge andcomplying with corresponding labels, companies develop more effective circular design strategies,while simultaneously increasing customers’ trust and loyalty.