The ABCs of sustainable tech shopping.

By Jeremy Dale, CMO, Likewize

In a world gripped by climate crisis, tech chip shortages, and supply chains, we all have a responsibility to adopt sustainable shopping habits. Nowhere is this more relevant than with our tech devices. The mobile phone industry has seen chip shortages and transportation delays that have impacted both production and delivery of devices in the second half of 2021, with volumes declining 4.5% versus the same period in 2020, according to IDC, which expects supply and logistical challenges to continue through the first half of this year.

Consumers are Quick to Ditch Devices

Following COP26—the recent UN Climate Change Conference—no one in the world could be left with any doubt that the planet is in crisis. Clearly, we all have a responsibility to change our habits by adopting sustainable shopping and conscious consumption. But what does this mean in the context of our mobile phone buying behaviors?  Consider this …

  • Each year, tens of millions of devices in the US are lost or stolen; only 7% are recovered.
  • One in three devices are damaged within the first year.

We are highly dependent on our mobile phones (after all, we check it 369 times a day!). We simply can’t live without our devices and even the shortest interruptions significantly disrupt our lives. Because we can’t live happily or function productively without them, people tend to throw money at solving any tech problem by buying a new device when the old device is lost, stolen or starts to underperform. In fact, a study commissioned by Likewize and conducted by YouGov* found that four in ten (42%) consumers would only wait up to three days before replacing a ‘broken’ device with a new one.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

While performance-related issues are attributed to a hardware defect, often it’s just a software glitch. Apart from cracked screens or water damage, about half of the devices that people think are broken can be resolved remotely with a software upgrade or via a troubleshooting call. In addition, it’s clear that consumers aren’t aware of the breadth of services available to quickly repair or replace lost or damaged devices.

Be Sure and Insure

Only 29% of US consumers have mobile phone insurance. And because mobile phone repairs can be quite costly, people who are faced with expensive repairs (because they have not insured their tech) often choose to spend their money on a new device. Ironically, these costs—and the associated hassle of supply shortages—could be avoided altogether simply by insuring mobile phones in the first place.

But there is more than money at stake: Needlessly replacing devices significantly damages the environment. Fortunately, in addition to buying insurance, there are other ways to extend the lifespan of existing mobile devices.

Reconsider Rehoming

Consumers who decide to buy a new device should consider giving their existing mobile phone a second (or third!) life by trading it in. Unfortunately, this is not being done nearly enough. The Likewize-commissioned research reveals that nearly half (49%) of US consumers admit to having kept their old, unused devices instead of trading them in or passing them on. Talk about a huge, missed opportunity!  

There is no good reason to keep perfectly good devices gathering dust in the back of drawers and closets. Instead, putting them in the hands of people who are less fortunate can help bridge the digital divide. After all, mobile phones are high-value items—powerful mini-computers with plenty of life left in them after just two or three years of use.

Despite the financial, environmental, and social benefits of trading in their devices, people are hesitant to do so. However, putting existing, perfectly good devices back into circulation is an easy and effective way to avoid supply issues. Thirty-one percent of consumers surveyed cited concerns around data privacy—a concern that is unfounded, since the processes and systems used by reputable organizations ensure data is not shared. And nearly as many respondents—28%–kept them just in case they would need or want to use them again. And yet, the truth is that people who purchase a newer model simply don’t go back to their old tech.

Building Better Tech Behaviors

Clearly, there will always be an appetite for purchasing brand new technology, and that’s fine. However,  the time is now to educate consumers on the ABCs of sustainable tech shopping. By considering taking out insurance, trading in older models and being more open to repairing devices rather than swapping them out at the first sign of problems, people can take important steps to protect their technology, their pockets and the planet.

*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1293 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between November 18 – 19,  2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (aged 18+).
Jeremy Dale Likewize, Industry Today
Jeremy Dale

Jeremy Dale is CMO of Likewize, a global premium technology protection and support provider whose customers span Amazon, Apple, Telefonica, Samsung and Virgin Mobile. He is also an author, speaker and change agent. His book, The Punk Rock of Business, focuses on the required changes in how we work due to the technological revolution. Prior to Likewize, he was employed by some of the biggest tech brands, including Microsoft and Motorola. You may contact him at jeremy.dale@likewize.com.

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