Brand New Waste: An Exploratory Study on Young Consumers' Perception of Upcycled Products

Dorina Strataj & Ludovica Sallese

Student thesis: Master thesis


The purpose of the present paper is to gain an understanding of the phenomenon of upcycling, while exploring young consumers’ perception on upcycled products. Although the upcycling practice is a growing trend which has been studied in the past few decades, existing studies have shed light primarily upon the phenomenon intended as a personal, at-home project. Limited research investigated upcycling as a commercial practice from a consumer perspective, hence the topic is worthy of more consideration.
This exploratory study uses a qualitative method: semi-structured interviews conducted with young consumers who belong to the Millennial generational cohort (aged 25 to 40 years old today) and live permanently in the greater Copenhagen area, Denmark. This paper pinpoints some of the factors that determine young consumers’ intention to choose upcycled products, their perception of the value and quality of this kind of products, as well as tailored branding implications.
Primary findings of this study indicate that, within the selected sample, the sustainable nature of upcycled products only partially contributes to the intention to purchase. Other factors, such as social and cultural influences, products’ quality, uniqueness, scarcity were found to be relevant. The story behind upcycling brands appears to stimulate the curiosity of young consumers. Therefore, this research suggests that it should be leveraged through appropriate branding strategies.
By providing exploratory insights on consumers’ perception and motivations to purchase upcycled products, this study contributes to the consumer behavior literature, as well as the growing circular economy and upcycling related literature. The exploratory essence of this research can serve as a starting point for further research on the perception of upcycled products including moderating variables such as culture and product category. Finally, the provided insights of the present study bring forward branding implications of this novel practice, which yields a basis to conduct further research on branding strategies for upcycled products.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2021
Number of pages189