Products becoming service and consumers becoming users – a future reality or just a modern trend?


Today I was invited to join a discussion about consumers´ choice organized by Novos Urbanos – a Brazilian organization led by Denise Chaer focused on Social Innovation in consumers´s behavior.

This is a very interesting topic for me especially because such topic is embedded into the circular economy discussion. The modern society has transformed consumption patterns from necessity to convenience and status. New terms such as “retail therapy” have emerged to explain the fact that people go shopping to relax, feel good and forget about their problems. The fashion industry create products that are “must haves”, certain products indicate your status and can give you the feeling of “belonging”.

In addition to that, the busier we get the more likely is that we will buy into “convenience”: ready made meals, kitchen electronics, fast food and packaged goods.

What is the impact of that on our daily lives, our heath and the environment? With such a variety of products to chose, how companies differentiate themselves from the competition? What are the dilemmas of our modern life? Is the system programmed to influence consumers’ choice and decision? If the products you buy represent who you are, who are you?

The discussion was very much around these questions and I was happy to lead two groups on the circular economy thinking and the connection with the changes in production and consumption patterns. Thanks Danielle Meres.

The fact is, consumers research around the world indicates that product differentiation now will be based in “experience”. People are not just buying what you do, but they buy your purpose and values. Every product must have a story behind and a good one. Of course this will be different from different markets and consumer consciousness. However, in such a globalized, inter connected and technological world, the consumer have your say and views and opinions can be spread very quickly.

Examples such as the water filter that are not owned by the consumer anymore and are paid as a monthly service (Whirlpool), the bicycle shared among several users (Bike Itau), the house that from time to time become a hotel (AirBnB) or the designed hand bags made out of inner tyres (Recman) are the new business models that have closed the loop of the materials, optimized materials use, offered consumer experience and reduced the environmental impact.

The new business models, that I believe, have come to stay.

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