Study on The potential effects on consumers of the real lifetime of products display

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The controlled and limited lifetime of products is one of the main issues in European industry. In this context, the European Economic and Social Committee adopted an opinion on "Product lifetime and consumer information. For a more sustainable consumption: industrial products lifetime and consumer information at the service of better consumption[1]".

Following this opinion, the EESC is launching a study to experiment behavioural changes in the purchase of a product when its lifetime is indicated.

The main hypothesis of this study is that pointing out a product's lifespan can favour a better understanding of the importance of consuming sustainably and responsibly. It could also mean that less wealthy households would be inclined to pay more for a product that has better quality and that will last longer.

Progress of the study

As general indications, this study could be done in a laboratory where an e-commerce situation would be simulated, so as to limit the costs of a "true" packaging campaign. A very large amount of products (electronics, textile, etc.) can be used for this study. The testing has to be done in two steps. First, consumer behaviour regarding the labelling of the life expectancy of a product has to be observed with a group of consumers that don't know the objective of this study, in order to know if the labelling does influence the final choice. Then, the study has to be done on consumers that have previously been told the aim of the study. The study can be utterly completed with personal and collective interviews.

Regarding the display of the label, it can either be presented in a numerical form (example: expected lifetime of 5 years) or as an estimation based on colour codes and pictograms. It can show the average lifetime expected based on an average number of uses (i.e.: 8 years for a dishwasher) or the number of uses expected for the product (i.e.10 000 prints for a printer). The labelling can also show how much the product costs per year of life expectancy.

Study Conclusions

Besides the impact on the consumer of the information related to the lifetime of a product, this study can bring some other answers. For example, are prices elastic depending on the announced life expectancy? Is it better to inform on the lifetime expectancy or on the use expectancy? Is certification by a standardisation office effective? Does the indication of the price/year ratio influence the consumer's calculations? What kind of labelling is preferred? Is the category of products, their price, or the consumer's profile an important variable for their behaviour? Would an information campaign have an amplifier effect? Etc.

Indicative calendar

  1. Launching of the invitation to tender: estimated timing is Friday 20 February 2015
  2. Deadline for submission of offers: 2 calendar weeks following the launching of invitation to tender
  3. Contract award:  estimated timing is 16 April 2015
  4. Draft report: 4 months following the signature of the contract by all parties
  5. Final report: 6 months following the signature of the contract by all parties



Send your expression of interest to participate or request for information to the following mail box (before the deadline mentioned below with Brussels time)


Wednesday, Mí Feabhra 18, 2015 - 18:00