The benefit analysis is used to analyse and evaluate the utility of products and services from the perspective of users or – where necessary – from the perspective of product policy. Users are predominantly private households and/or consumers, but may also be commercial users, the public administration or large organizations, such as churches.
Whereas benefit or utility is recorded and defined slightly above the functional unit or the functional equivalent in the case of a Life-Cycle Assessment, in PROSA benefit/utility is analysed more intensively because it ultimately determines consumers’ purchase and use decisions; furthermore, if higher social or ecological risks are involved, the assessment has to be reasoned and answered for in terms of product policy in view of relevant legislation (cf. also the socio-economic benefit analysis in the EU’s REACH initiative and Eco-Design Directive).
The benefit analysis is used to analyse – depending on the issue and with the help of consumer research (see below) – practical utility, symbolic utility and societal utility. The results will be quite different and will be assessed differently in different countries and target groups. This should be taken into account when defining the scope of the study.