Does online trade of used goods benefit the environment? Research project with eBay
With electronic markets and trading platforms in the internet consumer behaviour is changing fundamentally. Electronic market places offer a trading platform that reaches a lot more people than “off-line” markets. Furthermore electronic market places change the role of the consumer. The user is operating not only as consumer, at the same time he acts as provider of products and services (e.g. in second hand markets). The “con-sumer” adopts more and more of the tasks of the “pro-ducer” – he acts as “prosumer”.
This offers opportunities for sustainable consumption. The marketing of used products in second hand markets in the internet has positive effects concerning the life span of products. The product life is extended, the purchase of new products (and the connected environmental impacts) can be avoided.
Furthermore electronic markets change the attitude towards consumption and possession: from the idea of accumulation of goods towards the idea of auction culture, temporary ownership and reselling.
But there are not only positive environmental effects: a lot of energy and resources are used for the transport and shipping of products.
The aim of the present project is to explore second hand markets in the internet and to assess the chances and potentials of second hand marketing for sustainable consumption. One of the central tasks of the project is an extensive exploration of ecological, social and economic effects of second hand markets. With an extensive survey of eBay users the project explores motivations, buying and selling behaviour and the ecological effects of second hand business in the internet.
In co-operation with the eBay International AG the research team develops different innovation strategies:
1. Ecological optimization of the present online business (e.g. opportunities for CO2 neutral shipping or strategic co-operations with transport companies);
2. Activation of additional potentials: development of communication strategies to activate unused goods for second hand markets;
3. Promotion of new “auction cultures” that contribute to increase the life span and valuation of products (as a strategy to promote sustainable consumption).
Whereas the innovation strategies are developed and tested in co-operation with eBay, the results of the project address a wide range of actors, esp. research and consumer organisations.