Blog entry for 27.3.2013
Customer costs is very basic for marketing – how to market and sell a product with minimum costs for the customer? Costs in this context does not mean only the price but also the time – used for searching for information, going to the shop and buying the item – and money – used for the petrol in the car and the parking fee to reach the store. From a holistic perspective on sustainability the customer costs are part of the broader Life Cycle Assessment. Besides production and transportation of the goods, the way in which the consumer uses and maintains the product also adds on the environmental burden of the product.
I came to think of two questions. Firstly, how can the customer help to reduce to total social and environmental impact of a product? For instance, when talking about technological devices, everyone with a sustainability minded heart knows that it is worth trying to repair a broken product before buying something new. Or that proper maintenance extends the life of a product. Companies also have a responsibility in designing, manufacturing and selling strong products that do not break easily, and if it happens they are easy to repair. Sometimes communicating clearly the correct way to use a product is also necessary.
Secondly, why are companies not doing enough about this? Often it is in the company’s own interest to make products that do not last very long, because that way the customer is forced to buy new items frequently. Companies make profit by selling goods and grow by selling more and more goods, so there is a contradiction. Innovation and improving existing good are in line with sustainability, because newer products tend to be more environmentally friendly but at the same time it is encouraging to more consumption. However, from the marketing view point building sustainable products helps in creating long-term relationships with the consumer.
Also the customers – all of us – have the power to demand durable or non-durable products. It is obvious that more durable products tend to be more expensive. Therefore the tendency is to buy cheaper non-durable products – and that is what companies then create to satisfy our demands.