Fairphone 3: Commercializing Radical Sustainability

Published 20 Dec 2022
Reference 6585
Region Europe
Length 28 page(s)
Language English

The mobile phone industry is notorious for its lack of sustainability. Fairphone started as a campaign to draw attention to ‘conflict minerals’ and the plight of tantalum miners. It became a social enterprise by launching its first ‘fair phone’, the FP1, with conflict-free tantalum. The FP2 was more broadly sustainable, with a five-year lifespan, replaceable parts, and recycling of old handsets, but it was expensive and appealed mostly to die-hard ‘dark greens’ who valued sustainable living over functionality. When Eva Gouwens joined as CEO in 2017, she was charged with making Fairphone more commercially oriented, while staying true to its ESG mission. The case describes the changes made and the make-or-break product launch of the FP3. Despite positive initial results, Fairphone had some way to go to turn the FP3 not only into a commercial success but an example to the rest of the industry.

Teaching objectives

- To explore the problems underlying the sustainability of smartphones, including the challenges of complex supply chains and sustainable consumption as a potential driver of greater sustainability. - To identify the sustainability metrics relevant to smartphones/electronic devices and the associated measurement difficulties. - To examine the challenges and opportunities in successfully producing and marketing at scale a more sustainable smartphone. - To evaluate the market launch of a more sustainable smartphone, the FP3,including questions of market segmentation, targeting and positioning, pricing, marketing communications, and consumer acceptance. - To show how a campaigning organization transitioned to being more commercially-oriented while retaining its founding values. - To explore the merits of trying to change an industry’s sustainability practices by example and thereby illustrate “radical corporate sustainability” - its strengths and limitations.

  • Sustainability
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • ESG
  • Mobile Phones
  • New Product Launch
  • Sustainability Metrics
  • Sustainable Consumption
  • Commercializing Sustainability
  • Conflict Minerals
  • Recycling
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Social Enterprise
  • Radical Corporate Sustainability
  • Green Consumers
  • Q42022
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