Repair Service Signals - presented by visiting speaker Karen Page Winterich

Poster for Karen Page Winterich event

Repair Service Signals: How OEM Repair Services Signal Unused Utility and Decrease Product Replacement

Karen Page Winterich
Gerald I. Susman Professor in Sustainability,
Smeal College of Business, Penn State University

Friday, January 20, 2023
1:00 pm- 2:15 pm,
Delivered on Zoom (passcode: 902488)

Over the past several decades, there has been a substantial shift toward disposable consumption resulting in a ‘throwaway society’, which includes replacing rather than repairing broken durable goods. Third-party repair services exist even as consumers choose to replace over repair, but more Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are offering repair services.

If consumers simply prefer newer products, OEM repair services should not deter replacement. We propose that unlike third-party repair services, OEM repair services signal unused utility in non-fully functioning products, decreasing replacement behavior. Consistent with the theorizing regarding unused utility signals, we demonstrate that the OEM repair service effect is attenuated when there is: utilitarian attribute emphasis, low product ownership duration, and consumer frugality. Notably, third-party repair services can also signal unused utility when they receive certifications from the OEM demonstrated with repair service leads in a field study, or make waste salient in advertisements, increasing repair interest, demonstrated via Facebook ads.

This research makes substantive contributions to sustainability efforts aimed at mitigating overconsumption, providing implications to managers of manufacturing companies for consumer durables and third-party repair services while also making theoretical contribution to signaling theory and unused utility literature.

Presented by the DAN Department of Management & Organizational Studies