Design for Product Care—Development of Design Strategies and a Toolkit for Sustainable Consumer Behaviour

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Background: Taking care of products is a relevant approach to prolong products’ lifetimes and retain their desired level of performance, and is thus an important aspect of sustainable consumer behaviour. Although consumers have a general motivation to take care of their products, previous research has shown that they struggle to repair, maintain or treat their products carefully in daily life. Design has the potential to increase consumers’ product care activities, but designers need more knowledge and distinct strategies to evoke this product care behaviour with consumers. Methods: By the means of a multi-method approach—individual and group brainstorming sessions as well as an analysis of existing solutions—we created a large number of ideas on how to stimulate product care among consumers. Results: We were able to summarize these ideas in a clustering session into eight strategies and 24 sub-strategies that can foster product care through design. These eight strategies are: social connections, informing, enabling, appropriation, control, awareness, antecedents & consequences, and reflecting. The integration of the consumer perspective into strategies for product care extends currently known design strategies for repair and maintenance. To support designers in the implementation of these strategies, we developed a toolkit that can be used in the product development process of different product categories. Conclusions: This paper identifies product care strategies that have a distinct focus on the consumers’ perspective of sustainable behaviour and that can be stimulated through design. These rather psychologically-driven strategies thereby complement existing technology- and product-oriented design strategies. Furthermore, to facilitate implementation, a design toolkit has been developed that points to key requirements in practice.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere210013
JournalJournal of Sustainability Research
Issue number2
Number of pages34
Publication statusPublished - 04.2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2021 by the author(s). Licensee Hapres, London, United Kingdom. This is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. This article belongs to the Virtual Special Issue "Resisting Throwaway Culture—The Role of Consumers in Achieving Sustainable Product Lifetimes"

    Research areas

  • behaviour change, consumer behaviour, design for sustainability, design toolkit, maintenance, repair, sustainable consumer behaviour
  • Sustainability Science