If products are repairable, they can be used longer. If products are used longer, the demand for products must surely decline. If demand declines, business loses. Correct? Well, we don’t think so.
It is easy to see how repairability is good for customers and for the environment. But what about the business? Intuitively, repairably must be bad for businesses, right?
If someone buys a truly repairable product, it is clear that it’s usefull service life is much longer. In other words, he gets much more millage out of the product. Now there are two options. If the owner really likes and needs the product, the fact that he can keep using it for a very long time means a lots of added value for him. So the business can lose some customers due to less frequent product replacements but on the other hand business can win new customers who can now afford to pay more for a repairable product because of inherent guarantee that goes beyond the conventional warranty. Further, the business opportunity for replacement parts and servicing is significant.
But this is not the whole story. Not all customers would hold to their products for too long. Some simply like to change to newer or better looking models. Or they simple cease to need the product. All of these people would be able to sell their repairably products for much better price than is the case for conventional products. The reason is again the inherent guarantee for the new owner, that the second hand product can be maintained in the working order. For many price sensitive customers the choice would be between used but well designed, repairable product or new but poorly designed, hard to repair product. All other things being equal, more people would opt for the used but repairable product than new but lower quality and hard to repair product.
Our conclusion is that the repairably ecosystem would be one where companies with well designed quality products would continue to thrive. It would be the demand for mass produced, poor quality, poor design products that would decline. The one which consumes most resources to turn them into goods which became trash almost as soon as bought.
The overall demand for products in terms of quantity, or mass would decline. But this is the very desired outcome of the repairably initiative, decreasing consumption of resources and consequently production of waste. But in dollar terms and mainly in terms of profit, repairably might not be a bad news for business.
Last but not least, in a business the decisive factor is the demand of the customer. This holds true for product repairability as well. If customers demand repairable products, business has to eventually comply.
Repairably lets businesses on average produce less, but at greater added value as well as greater price tag. It let’s them serve all market segments with the high end products, having the emerging repairably ecosystem serve the price sensitive segments with older but perfectly functional products. Repairably, by providing well defined and understood product repair patterns would enable emergence of a whole repairably ecosystem. This ecosystem would take full care of product repairs, servicing, distribution and reuse during the whole useful service life of the products. Companies would be able to act environmentally more responsibly much easier, just by meeting the repairably criteria in the design and having the repairably ecosystem take care of the rest.