This paper contributes to the establishment of product lifetime extension (PLE) as a field of study through development of a framework of product lifetime extension business models (PLEBM), and offering of a taxonomy of PLEBM. The proposed taxonomy of PLEBM draws systematically on characteristics of 150 organizations which are identified in the scholarly and managerial literature as engaging in PLE. By considering the full spectrum of PLE practices systematically, we delineate these organizations on seven dimensions (i.e., key activities, key partners, channels, customer segments, customer relationships, offering, and revenue streaming) with 30 corresponding literature-based features. A clustering procedure, with key activities and key partners as input variables, revealed seven mutually exclusive PLEBMs: Relational product-as-a-service, Brick&digital product nurturers, Quality product designers, Secondhand vendors, Marketer-managed access systems, and P2P access brokers. Overall, product nature improvement through design is found less prevalent than product nurture strategies, such as maintenance (maintenance/advice/training/consulting), recovery (remanufacturing and repair), redistribution and access schemes. This study also presents a state-of-the-art overview on how organizations and consumers extend (pro-)actively product lifetimes.
Product lifetime (PL) is “the duration of the period that starts at the moment a product is released for use after manufacture and ends at the moment a product becomes obsolete beyond recovery at product level” (Den Hollander et al., 2017, p. 519). PL is therefore the useful life of a product; the time during which the product remains integer and usable for its primary function for which it was conceived and produced (van Nes and Cramer, 2003). Products can have one or more use cycles, but only one lifetime (Den Hollander et al., 2017). PL extension (PLE) refers therefore to the use cycle(s) that occur during a PL which reverse the product’s obsolescence. Undue shortening of product lifetime increases waste and contributes to serious environmental threats in many advanced and developing economies (World Bank, 2018). Organizations, through planned obsolescence (Pope, 2017; Rivera and Lallmahomed, 2016), and consumers, through psychological obsolescence and subsequent throwaway behaviors (Packard, 1968), are blamed for shortening of the PL. Nevertheless, organizations and consumers do also engage, separately or together, in innovative PLE efforts through various business models (BM) (The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2015; Urbinati et al., 2017; Lüdeke-Freund et al., 2018). For example, the partnership between Patagonia and eBay is a corporate initiative relying on consumers to donate or resell their Patagonia clothes online (Bocken and Short, 2016). Ikea’s “Second Life for Furniture” ۱ program is contingent on consumers to trade in old items in return for a store voucher (Ertz et al., 2017a).