Barriers to disposing products we no longer use: The role of perceived product value in understanding consumers’ disposition resistance towards neglected durable products.

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Within every household, a number of durable products is sentenced to gather dust on attics or be buried within a forgotten cabinet for years. These neglected products are neither used nor disposed of, forming a barrier to product circularity by eventually being thrown away instead of enabling its joy or function to someone else. This research aimed to create a more comprehensive understanding of the product neglect phenomenon by proposing that consumers resist disposition because of the product’s perceived functional or emotional value. Through an online questionnaire, 196 respondents expressed their judgements on a self-reported neglected durable product. The results indicated that neglected products hold emotional connections to one’s past, as well as potential future functionalities, which significantly influence consumers’ resistance to disposition. Emotional value, which is strongly related to the value’s uniqueness to the consumer, proved to form a stronger barrier to disposal than functional value did, supposedly as a way to avoid losing part of one’s identity. The analyses suggested that, even if consumers perceive a product’s value to be easily transferable, disposition is avoided for highly emotionally valued possessions. Moreover, no evidence was found for any effects of consumers’ attachment and frugal tendencies, suggesting that consumer characteristics do not play a role within the context of product neglect. Overall, this study provided an initial quantitative overview of product neglect in relation to perceived value, inviting future research to advance this knowledge by identifying other factors that influence the continuous neglect of products. An experimental setting focusing on consumers’ actual behaviours is deemed necessary to confirm the notion of a trade-off between gains and losses related to the prospect of disposition.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen