When choosing which way to go with the business models I got into a struggle with myself, and with “Circularity”.
Even though a lot of ideas pop up to improve the product/service of slippers but when it comes to decision making it conflicts with something in my head. Starting this project I was completely focussed on product design. Especially after doing the survey I was stuck with the thought of wanting to help people improve the quality of their slippers. To design slippers that way, that they would last forever.
When applying the different strategies from the ‘products that last’ framework this still fitted to my idea of what to improve and how.
But when arriving at the business model archetypes it started to daze that actually designing a product that lasts for years cannot work in reality, only on paper (or on a blog).
From a commercially perspective it is almost impossible to design something durable, sustainable, when it is desired to sell the product for an acceptable price.
Since slippers fall in a very cheap market segment, as a product people are not willing to spend a lot of money on this might not work. It can not work. The business world does not work like that.
Money needs to be earned to invest and explore, grow and meanwhile slowly try to convince people that they need to change their consuming behaviour.
So what is the difference between circularity and sustainability?
The idea of the Access model is something that can be made plausible, tangible, but is that sustainable? Creating this idea of a slipper service, giving people the change to lease slippers in public spaces to enhance their personal comfort and therefore their mood and well being means ADDING MATERIAL TO SOMETHING THAT DOES NOT EXISTS YET? WHAT? Wait what? Can I provide people with a service that would in the end make them more happy and circular because they reuse the base of this pair of slipper over and over again? Circular, sustainable, but not necessary?
Classic long life, but try to convince people to spend more money on a pair of really well designed high quality slippers which they can use for a long period, creating less waste or
Acces model, but add new material into a segment where actually no slippers are needed to enhance comfort and happiness and try to teach people about circularity by offering the service of well being?
These thoughts are flowing through my mind. What to do!
The most obvious business model is the first in row; The Classic Long Life one, when the slippers are looked at only from a consumer perspective to take their wishes for improvement in account than the slipper would be designed to last forever because the quality of the sole is super good, the slipper can be washed in a washing machine and is made for all seasons, both summer and winter prove, looks trendy forever and never wear out, and oh yes, as last wish: under 20€.
Even though everybody would want these slippers there is always a business side to each and every product. To make a profitable business out of these perfect slippers is hard when the consumer does not want to pay over 20€.
Comparing this with my own slippers comes to this: I dispose my slippers every half year, they cost me 5€, that makes 10€ a year on brand new slippers. In 5 years this costs me already 50 €.
The long lasting slipper should therefore already cost over 50€, but most people are not willing to spend that amount of money on a pair of slippers, unless it is already from a well-established brand.
Concluding this would fit into a business that already exists and claims to have the best quality for a long life span of products in their brandname.
Classic long life is possible when the right ratio between price/quality and profitability for the company can be met.
On product design level it is a challenge to make super durable slippers, starting with the improvement of the sole.
The Hybrid Business model can be very well used for the strategies found that deal with modularity. When the design of the sole can be increased to be of great quality the sole can be the ‘dedicated high-quality durable product’ whereas the top of the slipper can be made into a consumable type of product, cheap with short life span.
Basically the slipper is torn into pieces to create long lasting parts and also parts that can be easily and quickly replaced.
The Hybrid model can be a solution to combine long life with a disposable for sales and revenue. Better business model, but! When the slipper is designed a choice can be made concerning the usage of the right materials. A consumable ‘click-on’ top can for example be made out of TENCEL©, which is a biodegradable fabric made from wood fibres and therefore eco-friendly. This way the consumer can compost the top when it needs to be replaced by a new one.
It is hard to find a solution for the Gap Exploiter Model concerning slippers. One option within this business model is to recycle old shoe or flipflop soles and reuse them as the sole for slippers.
Most of the time it is the plastic thing between the toes of the flipflop that break but not the rest of the sole, meaning it is disposed even though people could still use the rubber foam sole as a base for slippers at home.
A business can be created where people hand in their old flipflop and get slippers for winter in return. The company then uses the broken sole as a base to create a top around it, ready for winter.
For a small fee the consumer gets to send the slippers to the refurbishing slipper company. The consumer will have goodwill for trying to help a hand to create a circular product.
Branding for this concepts needs to be really well worked out but it is a nice opportunity. People don’t averse their own feet.
Create a gap exploiter service by giving consumers the change to exchange their flipflops to be refurbished into winter slippers by reusing the sole.