Consumer perception of online attributes in circular economy activities

Nicole Stein, Stefan Spinler, Helga Vanthournout, Vered Blass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Businesses like Airbnb have shown that a successful circular economy (CE) business can operate exclusively online. Although online communication and web appearance attributes have been subject to academic research given accelerated digitization, there is still a lack of knowledge about online attributes and their role in facilitating CE. We close the portrayed knowledge gap by conducting a discrete-choice experiment with best to worst scaling and focusing on the effect of CE experience on the perception of a CE website by ranking nine online attributes, grouped in three subsets. We therefore contribute by identifying online attributes that are perceived as favorable for CE businesses and detect how participation in CE activities affects the perception of these attributes. We find that third-party associated online attributes (e.g., user reviews or third-party guarantees) rank significantly higher throughout CE consumption patterns of the sample, being always amongst the top three attributes. This novel finding on online preferences opens a new direction for further research, as well as allows practitioners to optimize online operations accordingly. Furthermore, we find that users without prior touchpoints with CE have a higher need for information about the business model as compared to CE active users who are more interested in community related attributes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1914
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • Circular economy
  • Consumer engagement
  • Online preferences
  • Perception

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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