Understanding product hibernation periods with children's products and exploring motivations for product care to encourage their reuse

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Aalto University

The phenomenon of product hibernation, namely the process by which end-of-use products are kept but no longer used is a common and significant barrier to prolonging product lifespans within a circular economy. Obsolete products challenge users' decision-making process for the after-use phase and are often discarded despite being perfectly functional. Especially in households with growing children, where children’s products are outgrown but not discarded, product hibernation is the result. This paper presents the survey findings of 157 hibernating children’s products, and interviews with ten families with growing children in the UK who have moved house, exploring product ownership, reasons for product hibernation, and the various barriers for their reuse. Understanding owners’ product care motivation for re-recognizing their value and providing choices to reuse the children’s products is vital to reduce product hibernation. Further, a workshop was conducted to explore the owners’ reuse experience of with their children’s products and the factors affecting their consistent caring process which aim to encourage people to reuse these products more. Through an idea generation process, nine influential factors were identified that suggest opportunities to change users' perception of the value of the end-of-use and care for these products. This paper makes an original contribution to product reuse knowledge with the development of a framework for understanding reuse motivations and barriers through the lens of care.

Product hibernation, Children’s products, Product care, Reuse, Circular economy