Motivating consumer-to-business smartphone returns: Evidence from a factorial survey experiment

Christoph Ratay, Alwine Mohnen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


In light of short replacement cycles and low recycling rates of smartphones, establishing effective return mechanisms for unused smartphones is crucial to prolong product use phases and thereby reduce the environmental impact of smartphones. Consumer-to-business return options provide a novel, accessible way to return unused devices but require consumer acceptance to fulfill their ecological potential. However, thus far, disposition is a largely understudied aspect of consumer behavior. We address the need for research on disposition behavior and smartphone returns by examining influences on consumers' intentions to use consumer-to-business return options for smartphones in a factorial survey experiment with 1192 smartphone users in Germany. We find that environmental awareness and price consciousness are both associated with higher return intentions. Although financial rewards are generally preferred to non-financial rewards, non-financial rewards gain popularity among environmentally aware consumers and when lower financial rewards are offered. Neither marketing smartphone returns with different appeal types nor linking the smartphone return to purchasing a replacement device influence participants' return intentions. In contrast, return mechanisms and device condition do significantly affect return intentions in our experiment. We discuss our findings’ implications for practitioners offering consumer-to-business return options and formulate practical recommendations, in particular regarding the use of non-financial rewards, the integration of return and refurbishing services, and potential benefits of physical drop-off stations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number133114
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2022


  • Circular economy
  • Consumer-to-business selling
  • Disposition behavior
  • Electronic waste
  • Smartphone returns


Dive into the research topics of 'Motivating consumer-to-business smartphone returns: Evidence from a factorial survey experiment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this