Circular design tools: (how) do they understand the consumer?
Paper in proceeding, 2019
A move towards a circular economy will require fundamental changes in the way products and services are designed. However, tools for design in the context of the circular economy mostly have a narrow product or service focus without acknowledging the role of addressing behaviors and changing practices. This paper presents the results of an exploratory study investigating to what extent circular design tools consider and integrate aspects related to consumption and consumers. Using five circular tools publicly available, the research team analyzed how they address three aspects: circular consumer behaviors, consumer acceptance factors and conditions for adoption. Our analysis shows that although some of the tools acknowledge the need to gather insights around consumption and consumers, they do not address such aspects in detail. When the tools considered consumer aspects, they did so by acknowledging circular consumer behaviors. Rent and rebuy are the most frequently mentioned behaviors, while remunerate, retain and renounce are absent from the tools. Other behaviors such as receive, ritualize, regard, revalue, resell and relinquish are mentioned only once. The tools’ lack of consideration of acceptance factors and contextual conditions is slightly surprising, as most of them advocate for a human-centered approach to product development. Existing circular design tools could thus benefit from integrating concepts and frameworks from fields such as design for sustainable behavior and practice-oriented design.
Circular design tools