Equity framed in the idea of social justice is on a lot of people’s minds these days, including our own at DFL group.
DFL is a product-based framework, but we don’t assess product price or dictate the margins or pricing strategies. The goal of DFL products is to bring long-term value to owners, but that increased value can mean increased price. We believe this increased long-term value creates a true Sustain-able product and is the key to a true Designed For Life product. Therefore, we have concluded that equity is not one of DFL’s main goals, but there are ways the DFL framework and the larger Circle To Consumer (CTC) operational model can address equity.
We do believe that bringing these valuable features and innovations to the market can aid the causes of equity. At first, DFL products might be priced in a luxury category, as many of the product features based on the DFL framework, such as components meant to be taken apart for easy maintenance, modularity, or added functionalities, will likely cost more to produce. These attributes add value for the consumer, however, they also add cost for the company; this cost will likely be reflected in the product price. However, a natural feature of capitalist markets is that new features introduced in high price categories shift down market as long as there is real value for the consumer. These features can be become less expensive with scale and as new technologies develop to meet the new needs in the marketplace.
Something like the heads up display or lane departure warnings in cars are examples of features that started in luxury vehicles, but are now pretty standard on new Toyotas. If the DFL framework is driving innovation and creation of valuable features being introduced into the market, natural market force would drive equity to bring those features to more consumers in the long term. An interesting dynamic here is we will be able to see what features truly stick with the consumer.
We understand there is some irony in saying capitalist forces will drive equity, so the second way DFL products can enhance equity is this idea of investment, and an end-of-life plan that includes a secondhand market. Let’s consider the example of a person who can buy a $150 pair of work boots that last 10 years. This person will save money in the long run investing in a good pair of boots versus a person who spends $50 on work boots that will need to be replaced every 2 years. A DFL product that is more durable will save money in the long run, but we know not everyone can afford that upfront investment.
Durable products are also more likely to be able to last on a secondhand market. If someone is only able to afford $50 to spend on boots, but they buy a pair of DFL boots secondhand for that price that can last them another 6 years instead of two, then theoretically, they will have the ability to save enough to buy a new DFL product.
Designing products that will still be valuable for a secondhand market, and having a real end-of-life plan is part of the DFL framework. With that being said, implementing secondhand markets or payment plans that can similarly allow for more equity in the market are part of a business’s operational plan and therefore fall under Circle to Consumer. In this way, DFL can support equitable business practices even though equity is not part of our core framework.