Does Access Trump Ownership? Exploring Consumer Acceptance of Access-Based Consumption in the Case of Smartphones

Flora Poppelaars*, Conny Bakker, Jo van Engelen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)
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Value creation in a circular economy is based on products being returned after use. In the case of smartphones, most are never returned and tend to be kept in drawers. Smartphone access services (e.g., leasing or upgrade) have been experimented with in the Netherlands but have been largely unsuccessful. This study explores the reasons why consumers rejected these access-based smartphone services and is one of the very few to address this topic. The findings are compared with the case of car access services, which are socially better accepted, to identify potential areas for improvement. The qualitative study consists of in-depth interviews with consumers (n = 18) who either adopted and used a smartphone or car access service, or had considered a new smartphone or car but did not choose access-based consumption. The findings of this small-scale study suggest that the main reasons for the rejection of smartphone access services are a lack of awareness, misunderstanding of terms and conditions, and unsatisfactory compensation for their sacrifice of not owning. Smartphone access providers could thus clearly communicate customers' rights and responsibilities, offer an excellent service experience (especially during repair) by taking over the burdens of ownership, and stimulate the societal logic shift from ownership to access.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2133
Number of pages18
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul-2018


  • consumer behavior
  • circular economy
  • behavioral change
  • consumer acceptance
  • access model
  • alternative ownership models

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