Right to repair has been enshrined in legislation for the first time
The right to repair is the new reality for manufacturers of dishwashers, refrigerators, TVs and washing machines.
The race to the bottom that gave rise to low-end brands, shorter life cycles and throw-away products is coming to an end.
The latest EU Eco Design Measures for energy efficiency and repair of home appliances will come into force in March 2021.
From this date manufacturers must:
- Make spare parts and technical data available to professional repairers for at least 7 years after the product purchase
- Supply spares and service information within 15 working days
This is a hard-earned victory for consumer champions and environmental campaigners.
For far too long many manufacturers have focussed relentlessly on making appliances cheaper to buy.
The consequence is that they don’t last as long as they should. When they break down, either they can’t be repaired, or repairs are too costly. Or it takes too long for appliances to get fixed.
This is bad for consumer choice, bad for the environment and ultimately bad for business.
Sustainability can no longer be relegated to a footnote in the company’s annual report.
Consumers and regulators are now demanding that appliances be made longer lasting, more energy efficient and easier to repair.
But where does this leave manufacturers?
How can they benefit from the new right to repair rules?
How manufacturers can engineer a genuine win: win through Right to Repair
Lifetime value is the key to making right to repair a genuine win: win for manufacturers, consumers and the environment.
Forward-thinking appliance manufacturers are already moving away from volume-based business models that aim to maximise the number of products sold.
Instead, they are turning to value-based strategies that aim to leverage longer ownership cycles through higher quality products and comprehensive service portfolios.
These strategies require greater investments both in designing products to last and making available the aftermarket infrastructure to fully support them.
The pay back comes in the form of higher margins from the sale of more premium products and ongoing monetisation of those products through complementary aftermarket services. The resulting consumer experience increases brand loyalty and fuels future repurchases.
Are consumers prepared to pay more for better appliances and additional services?
The answer is a qualified yes.
Manufacturers of premium appliances are prospering. For example, Miele which has long made a virtue out of its products being “built to last” continues to grow. This despite what it describes as a cooling world economy and increased competition.
The established giants of the industry such as Electrolux and Whirlpool report increasing revenues from their aftermarket services. This is a result of making spares and repairs more accessible, capping the cost that consumers incur and enabling these costs to be paid in consumer-friendly ways.
Fixing the broken repair market
More needs to be done to drive awareness that repairing appliances is not only possible but is almost always the more cost-effective and environmentally friendly option.
Right to repair campaigns, repair cafes, do it yourself websites and consumer organisations all play a valuable role in changing the long established misconception that it is easier to simply throw away a broken down appliance rather than go to the time and trouble to find someone competent and reliable to fix it.
Changes to consumer behaviour can be accelerated by new regulations such as the Eco Directive and Sweden’s Rut legislation which gives tax breaks to consumers who opt to repair rather than replace
The future is good for the consumer, for the environment and for business
“Our eco-design measures can save European consumers a lot of money, as well as help the EU reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.”Miguel Arias Cañete, European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy
Enlightened manufacturers have nothing to fear from placing into the market products engineered to last longer, use less energy and be repaired at a more acceptable cost.
Ultimately, the volume of products being sold each year in replacement markets will reduce. This will be more than offset by the growth in new product sales to developing markets.
Moreover, the value of the appliance market when product sales and aftermarket sales are added together is likely to increase. As should its profitably.
Right to repair has changed the rules. The new rules will change the market dynamic for manufacturers and consumers. This should result in a genuine “win: win” scenario that delivers:
- Less waste and lower impact on the environment
- More aftermarket choice and less overall cost for consumers
- Higher value and improved profits for manufacturers