What Is The Importance Of Consumer Education?
Consumer education can help develop critical thinking and raise awareness, thereby enabling consumers to become more pro-active. It is also an important vehicle for building the confidence that consumers need to operate in increasingly complex markets.
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- 1 What is importance of consumer education and protection?
- 2 What are the most important objectives of consumer education?
- 3 What is consumer learning?
- 4 What are the three components of consumer health education?
What is importance of consumer education and protection?
Consumer Education and Protection are thus tools which empower and equip consumers to protect themselves from adverse market forces. In addition, they help the consumers understand legislation and policy matters which would directly have a bearing on their rights and choices as consumers.
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What is the importance of consumer?
Importance (Significance) of Consumers : – The importance of consumers in different avenues is discussed below: (i) Encourage Demand : Consumers are the main source of demand for all the goods. The producers of industrial goods or the producers of agricultural products are all producing the various items according to the demand in the market.
- According to Prof.
- Marshall, it is the demand which controls the production or market.
- Hence, the consumers create demand in the market and producers produce goods or services accordingly.
- Ii) Create Demand for Various Products : The different consumers have different types of demand or a single consumer can also demand different types of products.
These will encourage the producers to produce various types of products in the market. For example, some consumers want to consume paddy, whereas some consumers want to consume wheat. However, there are some consumers; who want different qualities of paddy and wheat also.
Thus, there are some consumers who prefer red colour soap whereas other’ consumers prefer green colour soap. Therefore, to satisfy all the types of consumers, producers must increase the production of various products. (iii) Increase Demand for Consumer Goods : Consumers create more demand for all the types of consumer goods, like durable, semi- durable and perishable goods.
Durable consumer goods include furniture, utensils, televisions, etc. and for semi-durable goods like clothes, books, shoes etc. On the other hand, perishable goods like bread, butter, vegetables, fruits etc. are all demanded by the consumers for their consumption purposes.
Naturally, all these create an atmosphere to increase demand for consumer goods. (iv) Enhance Service Diversification : Consumers not only consume different varieties of goods, but also consume large varieties of services to maintain the standard of living. These include health service, educational service, banking and insurance service, transport and communication service, etc.
Day by day the consumption of these services is rising. This will lead to expansion or enhancement of service sector within the economy. : Consumers: Types and Importance of Consumers
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What is the importance of consumer education brainly?
Expert-Verified Answer Consumer education provides the public with the information it needs on products and services so it can make well-informed decisions on what it is purchasing and from whom it purchases. It helps consumers understand their rights and become active participants in the buying process.
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What is consumer education in your own words?
Consumer education is the preparation of an individual to be capable of making informed decisions when it comes to purchasing products in a consumer culture, It generally covers various consumer goods and services, prices, what the consumer can expect, standard trade practices, etc.
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What are the most important objectives of consumer education?
Objective of Consumer Education: Consumer education mainly aims at making consumers aware about what, where, when, how and how much to buy. It develops critical awareness and living skills which are oriented towards building a better future for all. Consumer education assists the buyer in wise selection of goods to meet family requirements.
Consumer education is extremely important for every individual. This awareness safeguards the consumer interests for better living. Consumer education enables an individual to : • Have proper knowledge and information as regards the items/services needed in day-to-day life. • Make better use of their money thus improving the standard of living.
• Make intelligent choices and be better prepared for everyday living. • Derive maximum satisfaction from the product or item or service used.
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What are the values of consumer education?
Citation: – L. Gayle Royer (1980),”The Value of Consumer Education in Increasing Effective Consumer Performance: Theory and Research”, in NA – Advances in Consumer Research Volume 07, eds. Jerry C. Olson, Ann Abor, MI : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 203-206.
- Advances in Consumer Research Volume 7, 1980 Pages 203-206 THE VALUE OF CONSUMER EDUCATION IN INCREASING EFFECTIVE CONSUMER PERFORMANCE: THEORY AND RESEARCH L.
- Gayle Royer, InterAmerica Research Associates, Inc.
- ABSTRACT – This article examines the degree to which it is currently possible to measure the impact of consumer education on consumer effectiveness.
Consumer education is viewed as preparation for decisionmaking. It is not feasible to directly measure consumer education’s value in improving decisionmaking. However, there are identifiable factors which can be assumed to be related to consumer effectiveness, and which can be impacted by consumer education.
INTRODUCTION The complexity of decisions facing consumers today reinforces the need for a cadre of trained, alert, and responsive citizens, each prepared to analyze current issues, identify and interpret relevant information, and make reasoned judgements in line with his/her own goals and the goals of society.
The present level of preparedness of American adults is far from adequate to meet these needs, however. In a recent study of adult functional competency (Kelso 1975), the greatest deficiency was in the area of consumer economics. Fewer than 30 percent of the adults with eighth grade education or less, and fewer than 38 percent of adults with secondary education could cope with the basic subject matter.
The remaining 60 to 70 percent were functionally inadequate in all aspects of the subject. In reporting on this study, Kelso states that translated into population figures, some 34.7 million adult Americans function with difficulty and an additional 39 million are functional (but not proficient) in coping with basic requirements that are related to Consumer Economics (p.6).
CONSUMER EDUCATION: A DEFINITION The content areas evaluated in the adult functional competency study were combinations of concepts normally covered in secondary courses in economics, consumer education, and consumer economics; as well as the traditional curricula such as home economics, business, social studies, and mathematics (Uhl et al.1970).
This confusion in definition of consumer education content is not a new problem faced by curricula developers. In an analysis of course content as it existed in 1934, Koos (1934) found that similar confusion and overlap existed at that time, and suggested greater specification of content division and areas of interdisciplinary coverage.
His suggestions have gone unheeded for over 40 years, while the muddled state of the content has become a tradition. The situation is complicated further by state legislatures as they mandate or encourage inclusion of consumer education in public school curricula.
- Alexander (1979) found that 38 states have legislative mandates or resolutions urging the teaching of consumer education.
- There is little consistency or common language among mandated programs.
- Outside the traditional school system, consumer education is a viable component of adult education programs, special interest/advocacy efforts and the business community.
Granted, these groups do not address consumer education consistently, but each in its own way makes conscious efforts to bring about a change in consumer behavior. Business involvement in consumer education is becoming an internalized corporate function.
- The private sector still, as in the past, funds teacher training programs and research efforts, and produces abundant print materials.
- However, while such efforts are perhaps conducted with the usual degree of “enlightened self-interest,” there is a noticeable change in the impetus for these efforts: the staff position with designated responsibility for consumer education.
As the number of such positions increases, so does the influence of business in legitimate consumer education. It would be wondrous indeed if, with the pressures of classroom educators from many subjects of community-based organizations, of special interest groups, and of business, there had evolved one uniformly accepted definition of consumer education.
Such a wonder has not come to pass, nor is it likely to occur in the near future. The Model In a move toward alleviating some of the problems resulting from the lack of clarity in definition, research was designed to delineate the parameters of consumer education and to develop a model which can be used to assess the focus and content of the field.
The research and writing for this effort (Trujillo 1977) was conducted by the staff of InterAmerica Research Associates, Inc., under contract with the U.S. Office of Education, Office of Consumers’ Education. The resulting interpretations, conclusions, and recommendations are those of InterAmerica and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Consumers’ Education.
In the course of the research a draft model was developed, comprised of concepts commonly found in economic education, consumer education, finance, personal economics, or consumer economics. Using a modified Delphi technique, the draft was submitted for review and comment to a panel representing the perspectives and viewpoints of all groups with an interest in such a study.
The panel consisted of nationally recognized representatives of: * the economic interests of labor, * the economic interests of business, * economic educators, * consumer economists, * consumer activists, * family life educators, and * education administrators.
- A preliminary scope and sequence model was developed listing those content areas (concepts) appropriate for consumer education and/or economic education at the levels of kindergarten through grade 12.
- The working definition used in the development of the preliminary model was taken from the U.S.
- Office of Education, which considered consumer education to be an effort to prepare persons for participation in the marketplace by imparting the understandings, attitudes, and skills which will enable them to make rational and intelligent consumer decisions in light of their personal values, their recognition of marketplace alternatives, and social, economic, and ecological considerations (U.S.
Office of Education 1976). The Procedure Panel members received the draft model and reviewed it three times in an effort to produce a final model which reflected consensus as to the content to be included in consumer education. During each review, a panel member could suggest additions, deletions, or changes in format, emphasis or orientation.
- In addition to these general reactions, the panel completed specific tasks aimed at achieving consensus.
- In the first review, each panel member responded to each concept by indicating whether that concept was appropriate to consumer education at the K-12 level.
- A depth-of-coverage scale was added for the second review.
If the panel omitted a concept in the first review and, during the second review, a panel member indicated that the concept should receive some coverage, that panel member was required to explain his/her reasoning. A third review was designed to permit feedback and interaction among the panel and to refine the depth-of-coverage assessments.
The third model reflected all suggested changes and the scale indicated the degree to which the panel had achieved agreement after two reviews. All minority opinions from the second review were reported, to allow panel members to consider different viewpoints. Panel members were required to give explanations in this final instance if their opinion of depth-of-coverage differed from the second review majority opinion for each concept.
Few concepts were eliminated from the model during the reviews. Inasmuch as the panel was identifying concepts appropriate at the K-12 level, some concepts were considered inappropriate for that level and were excluded from the model. With practical curricular limitations in mind, a task was developed for the final review, whereby each reviewer voted the 15 concepts most necessary in consumer education.
Implementing the Model The concepts under study were grouped into categories by general topic, to permit ease of reference. The broad categories were arranged to reflect the learning sequence necessary to implement the model. Because of the interrelationship of consumer education and its base disciplines, it is impossible to exclude these disciplines from a description of the learning sequence.
The study of both consumer and economic education begins with identification of resources which limit the ability of producers and consumers to manage affairs to achieve their goals. The extent of ownership of the resources determines the level of income available to producers and consumers.
It is appropriate to examine the types of income that are generated through resource ownership. The existence of limited resources and hence of limited income available from their sale or use, constrains the ability of consumers, producers, or workers to achieve their goals. Consumer, producer, and labor decisions are covered as objective-maximizing approaches to the use of scarce resources.
Detailed study of the consumer decision process is appropriate in consumer education, while production and labor are relegated to related fields. It is obvious, however, that some understanding of the relationships among the three approaches is necessary.
A detailed examination of consumer resource management can and should follow the study of the consumer decision process, but is not crucial to an understanding of the remaining concepts in the model. Following the study of the decisionmaking of consumers, producers, and workers, consumer education and economic interface with a study of markets.
Markets are examined as institutions in which prices are determined, permitting exchange to occur between consumers and producers seeking to obtain the most satisfaction from resources. The model recommends examination of markets from local, national, and international perspective.
For various reasons, all levels of government intervene directly in the operations of these markets: interventions are examined in the model. Indirectly, the federal government intervenes in markets by actions in pursuit of stable prices and employment for the entire economy. Such stabilization policies are manifest in the model through the inclusion of concepts of monetary and fiscal policy.
Once specific policies are implemented, they influence the abilities of individual consumers and producers to achieve their personal objectives. Accordingly, such individuals change their behavior in the markets in which they participate; as a result, the stabilization policies are revealed as having had an impact.
- The model recommends exploration of similar concepts in alternative economic systems and for other time periods.
- The ultimate objective of consumer education is to produce a citizenry capable of analyzing contemporary social issues and developing individual and social policies to deal with them.
- The model ends with a section on contemporary social issues, the treatment of which requires an understanding of the previous concepts.
PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS The consumer education model is designed to produce citizens who are capable of analyzing issues and selecting among alternative solutions. The Public Interest Economics Center, in independent research (Ferguson 1977), concluded a similar purpose for consumer education and stated that In general, the prime focus of consumer education should be to facilitate the involvement of citizens in determining the conditions of economic choice confronting them (p.
- Xi). Consumer educators from all spheres might agree with the general purposes revealed by these two studies, yet question the practicality of achievement.
- Can the present cadre of consumer educators (from the classroom, the community, and the business arena) deliver programs which promote analytical and decisionmaking expertise, i.e., can we increase the effectiveness of consumers? InterAmerica, having developed a model of consumer education consistent with the lofty purposes, attempted to assess the model by comparison with consumer education as it exists or as it could be modified utilizing present resources.
The Purdue Consumer Education Study (Uhl et al.1970) is the most recent account of a national survey of consumer education programs. That survey reveals serious deficiencies in the topical coverage of the field, an overlap-and-gap approach which omits many of the teachings essential to the development of analytical and decisionmaking abilities.
- An updated survey would have been enlightening, but was not permitted by the government.
- Instead, InterAmerica was commissioned to review the resources available to classroom teachers.
- Classroom teachers rely on several inputs for guidance in developing an educational program.
- Probably the most frequently used inputs are curriculum guides and published texts.
Consumer education is taught by persons who have received relatively little training in the subject matter. Under such conditions, dependence on guides and texts is likely to increase, with dominant influence exerted by the texts. It is extremely difficult for a teacher to present concepts which are unfamiliar or, at most, vaguely known to them, and which are absent from the texts which students will be using.
- The panel’s view of consumer education differs markedly from that of writers of textbooks, workbooks, reference books, and other resources.
- The resources present consumer education very clearly as a practical individual application of the theory with an emphasis on the marketplace.
- The model, in contrast, perceives a strong theoretical base, to which consumer education adds individual consumer applications.
If teachers continue to rely on these sources for guidance in K-12 program planning, and if guides and texts continue to view consumer education in the narrow context of “how-to,” students will never receive the training envisioned by the panel. Coverage of contemporary social issues was lacking in materials designed for consumer education.
- Without texts to cover these concepts, without supplementary pamphlets, booklets, or other resources to fill the void, and without curriculum guides to stimulate an analysis of contemporary issues, it is unlikely that teachers will include this category of concepts in their courses.
- The working definition of consumer education specifies an understanding of social, economic, and ecological consideration.
Based on coverage of contemporary social issues in the resources examined, there is little possibility that students will achieve the prescribed understandings. Ecological and citizenship aspects of consumer interests are seldom covered, and other social issues appear only infrequently.
MEASURING CONSUMER PROFICIENCY Inasmuch as our research indicated that consumer education was unlikely to comply with the objectives proposed in Trujillo (1977) and Ferguson (1977), it is appropriate to examine the other accomplishments of the field. Competency-based education is a current emphasis at all levels of government, and tests are available which purport to measure consumer competency.
To the extent that the tests are valid, results indicate that test scores are improved as a result of consumer education. Notable among the tests are Stanley’s (1975) test of consumer competencies, normed with almost 8,000 Illinois students in grades 8-12 and based on the objectives from the Illinois Guidelines for Consumer Education (State of Illinois 1972).
Despite the title of the test (Test of Consumer Competencies), Stanley claims the more manageable task of attempting to measure consumer knowledge. The test has been used by Garman (1977) to measure the consumer education literacy of prospective teachers. German’s findings indicate that enrollment in college-level consumer education courses was positively related to test scores.
Stanley’s test is certainly not the only test in the field. It is, however, one of the least criticized tests of consumer knowledge. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (1979) pilot study of the consumer skills and attitudes of 17-year-olds has come under fire from a number of sources.
The assessment instrument, like others less widely publicized may best be characterized by the lack of consistency in the content of the questions. Richardson (1979) maintains that inconsistent questions reflect the state of the art in consumer education. Assessment instruments purporting to measure competency, skills and attitudes, or just knowledge are accused of what Richardson characterizes as the “I” errors: Invalid opinion, Inane exercises, Incorrect questions, Imperfect wording, and Improper advice.
Despite those well-deserved criticisms, the available tests serve as a tentative measure of consumer information acquisition, if administered and interpreted with caution. Judicious administration of such tests will yield results to indicate that current consumer education programs are increasing consumer knowledge levels in selected areas.
- Those results will not, however, measure the value of consumer education in increasing effective consumer performance.
- At least, these tests indicate increases in knowledge.
- There is not, at this time, convincing evidence that increased knowledge leads to increased proficiency.
- Jacoby (Jacoby et al.1977) and Uhl (Uhl et al.1970) have theorized that relevant consumer education is necessary for the effective interpretation and utilization of information.
If so, tests must be constructed to indicate the accuracy of the theory. Further, tests must reveal the specific aspects of consumer education which aid in information processing. If one accepts the premise that consumer education has, as an ultimate objective, the development of a citizenry capable of analyzing social issues and developing individual and social policies, then one must carefully consider how one would measure “effective consumer performance.” One can no longer be satisfied with increased knowledge or with professed satisfaction with a consumption decision.
Nor can one risk applying one’s own value system to another consumer’s performance. The time has come to develop methodologies for assessing consumer performance and the impact of consumer education. This research area is ripe for exploration. The task will not be simple, we may never achieve a perfect assessment, but it is imperative that we address our research skills to questions such as: * What are the quantifiable characteristics of effective consumer performance? * What factors impact on consumer performance? * How can consumer education increase the incidence of positive characteristics? Confidence in consumer education may remain largely a matter of faith, as are convictions that a study of history, reading, or English will improve the lifestyles of individuals and thus the nature of our society.
Theories of effectiveness may remain unconfirmed. If so, consumer education will doubtless continue in the classroom, the clubroom, and through the media. Our research capability should permit much greater understanding than is currently possible, however.
Future research on this topic should not only lead to measurement instruments, but concurrently to our knowledge of the relative effectiveness of various consumer education methodologies. REFERENCES Ferguson, Allen R., Marc I. Breslow, and Steve Buchanan (1977), Potential Economic Benefits of Consumer Education, Washington, D.C.: The Public Interest Economics Center.
Garman, E. Thomas (1977), A National Assessment of the Consumer Education Literacy of Prospective Teachers from All Academic Disciplines, Blacksburg: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Jacoby, Jacob, Robert W. Chesnut, and William Silverman (1977), “Consumer Use and Comprehension of Nutrition Information,” Journal of Consumer Research, 4, 119-128.
- Joint Council on Economic Education (1975), Survey on Mandated Courses in Economics, New York: Joint Council on Economic Education.
- Elso, Charles R.
- 1975), Adult Functional Competency: A Summary, Austin: University of Texas.
- Oos, Leonard V.
- 1934), “Consumers Education in the Secondary Schools,” School Review, 42, 737-750.
National Assessment of Educational Progress (1979), Teenage Consumers: A Profile, Denver: Education Commission of the States. Richardson, Lee (1979), “Assessing the National Assessment of Consumer Skills and Attitudes,” ConCERNs, 1, 3-4. Stanley, T.O., (1975) The Development of the Test of Consumer Competencies, Doctoral dissertation, Northern Illinois University, Ann Arbor: University Microfilms.
State of Illinois (1973), Guidelines for Consumer Education, Springfield: Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Trujillo, Gayle Royer for InterAmerica Research Associates, Inc. (1977), Consumer and Economic Education (K-12): A Comparative Analysis, Washington, D.C.: Office of Consumers’ Education/USOE.
Uhl, Joseph N., et al. (1970), Survey and Evaluation of Consumer Education Programs in the United States, Vol.1: Survey and Evaluation of Institutional and Secondary School Consumer Education Programs, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.U.S.
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What is the most important factor for a consumer?
How and why do people make a decision to buy? Well this is indeed a difficult question to answer as there are many different types of buyers, some being those basic impulse buyers and some are those who use a totally intense system and make thorough investigation before making a purchase decision.
While these different types of buyers take their purchase decision in different ways there are 7 important factors that influence all the buying decisions. Let’s discuss the 7 most important factors that Influence the buying decision of a consumer. Important Factors That Influence The Buying Decision Factors That Influence The Buying Decision, Contact Discovery, Influencing Customers Buying Decisions, iSN, iSN Global Solutions, Sales Support Services, Account Profilling 1.
Economic Factor The most important and first on this list is the Economic Factor. This one is the main foundation of any purchasing decision. The reason is simple people can’t buy what they can’t afford. The need of a product also doesn’t play a role here, but the most important thing is affordability.2.
- Functional Factor The factor is totally about needs, backed by a logic that what makes sense and also fits in the best interest of the customer.
- This one factor also plays a very important role in the buying decision.3.
- Marketing Mix Factors There are 4 components in the marketing mix, i.e.
- Product, pricing, promotion and place of distribution and each of these components have a direct or indirect impact on the buying process of the consumers.
The consumers consider various things like the characteristics of the product, price charged, availability of the product at the required location and much more.4. Personal Factors The personal factors include age, occupation, lifestyle, social and economic status and the gender of the consumer.
- These factors can individually or collectively affect the buying decisions of the consumers.
- Factors That Influence The Buying Decision, Contact Discovery, Influencing Customers Buying Decisions, iSN, iSN Global Solutions, Sales Support Services, Account Profilling 5.
- Psychological Factor When it comes to the psychological factors there are 4 important things affecting the consumer buying behaviour, i.e.
perception, motivation, learning, beliefs and attitudes.6. Social Factors Social factors include reference groups, family, and social status. These factors too affect the buying behaviour of the consumer. These factors in turn reflect an endless and vigorous inflow through which people learn different values of consumption.7.
- Cultural Factors Cultural factors have a subtle influence on a consumer’s purchasing decision process.
- Since each individual lives in a complex social and cultural environment, the kinds of products or services they intend to use can be directly or indirectly be influenced by the overall cultural context in which they live and grow.
These Cultural factors include race and religion, tradition, caste and moral values. Consumer behaviour can indicates different things like how individuals or groups choose to buy, use and dispose goods or services, to satisfy their needs and desires.
- Hence it is important to understand that the consumer behaviour is affected by several factors.
- To have a good knowledge of the factors affecting the consumer behaviour contact iSN Global Solutions for our Sales Support Services.
- We offer excellent Account Profiling services and can provide the factors influencing the buying decision in the market.
We assure the data and statistics are taken from verified sources at ISN.
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Why is it important to protect consumers?
Consumer protection laws are made to protect consumers from fraudulent business practices, defective products, and dangerous goods and services. They play an important role in a reliable market economy, helping to keep sellers honest, with no threat of unpleasant surprises.
- Consumer protection laws in the U.S.
- Are comprised of various federal and state laws, each of which governs a particular area of the economy.
- The government oversees consumer protection through the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), while states use a variety of agencies and statutes to enforce consumer protection and sometimes expand on these laws.
Not all jurisdictions protect consumers in the same way, with some being more pro-consumer than others.
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What is consumer learning?
A process by which individuals acquire the purchase and consumption knowledge and experience that they apply to future related behaviour. Learning refers to a relatively permanent change in behavior that is caused by experience.
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How does consumer education affects our daily life?
Citation: – Paul N. Bloom (1976),”How Will Consumer Education Affect Consumer Behavior?”, in NA – Advances in Consumer Research Volume 03, eds. Beverlee B. Anderson, Cincinnati, OH : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 208-212. Advances in Consumer Research Volume 3, 1976 Pages 208-212 HOW WILL CONSUMER EDUCATION AFFECT CONSUMER BEHAVIOR? Paul N.
Bloom, University of Maryland ABSTRACT – The recent upsurge of interest in consumer education can be expected to lead, in the long-run, to significant changes in consumer behavior. This paper contains a brief description of existing consumer education programs and a discussion of several hypotheses about how programs of this type could affect consumer behavior.
Interest in consumer education is growing rapidly. Within the last few months, a conference on consumer education has been held at the White House, an Office of Consumers’ Education has been established within the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and courses in consumer education have been made mandatory for all high school students in several states.
- This growth of interest in consumer education can he attributed to the recent depressed economic situation and, to soma extent, the disappointing results achieved by certain consumer information programs (see Day and Brandt, 1974; Jacoby, Speller, and Kohn, 1974; Isakson and Maurizi, 1973).
- Many individuals have come to believe that consumer education programs are needed to help consumers deal with inflation and energy shortages and to teach consumers how to use and benefit from “Truth in Packaging,” “Truth in Lending,” and “Unit Pricing” disclosures.
If interest in consumer education continues to grow, and if more and better consumer education programs follow, then significant long run changes can be expected to occur in the behavior of consumers. The consumers of tomorrow will have gone through a very different consumer socialization process than the consumers of today, and this could lead to vastly different consumer expectations, attitudes, preferences, and shopping habits.
- The purpose of this paper, therefore, is to provide an overview of the consumer education programs currently in operation in the United States and to present several hypotheses about how programs of this type could affect consumer behavior in the future.
- Before this material can be presented, however, it is necessary to clarify what interpretation is given in this paper to the terms “consumer education” and “consumer education program.” A DEFINITION OF CONSUMER EDUCATION In this paper, consumer education is viewed as the process by which people learn the workings of the-marketplace so that they can improve their ability to act as purchasers or consumers of those products and services they deem most likely to enhance their well being (see Willett, 1974; Seitz, 1972, p.199).
Consumer education is therefore treated as being rather different than consumer information – something with which it is often confused. Consumer education is considered to be a learning process which people go through which, of course, cannot be readily observed or heard.
Consumer information, on the other hand, is clearly something which can be observed or heard. A consumer education program is viewed in this paper as any organized activity which has as one of its major ultimate goals the advancement of the process of consumer education among some segment of consumers,
This definition permits programs which certain people in the consumer education field might label as consumer information programs – because no teaching in a formal educational environment is taking place – to be viewed as consumer education programs.
For example, a program which develops consumer information pieces such as buying guides or curriculum guides for use in high school consumer education courses is considered a consumer education program. Similarly, a program in which advertising messages are designed and distributed that instruct consumers in how to shop for certain categories of products is considered a consumer education program.
Both of these programs are designed to help advance the process of consumer education. However, programs which provide only factual information about specific product offerings, from which consumers can learn little that can be used in a variety of buying situations (e.g., unit pricing or “Truth in Lending” programs), are considered merely consumer information programs.
CURRENT CONSUMER EDUCATION PROGRAMS There are now a very large number of consumer education programs in operation in the United States. A major study conducted at Purdue University in 1969 (Uhl, 1970) identified and examined more than 500 of these programs, and many more have been organized since that time.
These programs are administered by a wide variety of public and private organizations, and are designed to help consumers of all age brackets, social classes, and ethnic backgrounds. A brief review follows of the consumer education programs administered by Federal, state, and local governments and by private non-profit and profit-making organizations.
- The Federal government has a host of agencies administering consumer education programs.
- Some of these agencies set up and run model programs for other organizations to copy.
- Other agencies produce and distribute consumer information materials which are used by the media to help design consumer education messages or by teachers to help instruct consumer education classes.
Still other agencies are involved in stimulating additional interest in consumer education among educators, businessmen, and the general public through conducting workshops, symposiums, and seminars. Finally, there are a few agencies which distribute Federal funds to consumer education programs.
The Federal agencies which are most actively involved with consumer education include the Office of Consumer Affairs (within the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare), the Department of Agriculture, the Office of Economic Opportunity, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, and the newly formed Office of Consumers’ Education (within the Office of Education of HEW).
The Office of Consumer Affairs, for example, publishes and distributes a large variety of materials related to consumer education including curriculum guides, bibliographies, directories, and a newsletter called Consumer News, This agency also sets up and runs model consumer education programs, including one for the residents of the Indian Pueblos of New Mexico, and it is continually arranging seminars and meetings to stimulate interest in consumer education.
The new Office of Consumers’ Education also deserves special mention. This agency was established in 1975 to act as a source of funds for consumer education research and programs. Approximately $3 million per year has been budgeted for this agency during fiscal years 1976 and 1977. This is the first Federal agency that has been given the right to award funds specifically for consumer education research.
In the past, funds for this purpose have had to come from monies appropriated for vocational education and other areas. It should be noted that President Ford supported the appropriation of $3 million per year to this agency, and that he has also demonstrated his support for consumer education by holding a one-day conference on the subject at the White House on March 11, 1975.
State governments tend to get most involved with consumer education through their control over public school systems. However, many state governments also run consumer education programs to help the poor, disadvantaged, or other segments of their populations such as ex-convicts (Goetting, 1974). In the schools, at least six states (Illinois, Oregon, Wisconsin, Florida, Kentucky, and Hawaii) have decided to make consumer education a required course (Brooks, 1973), and many other states have recommended that consumer education be included in the high school curriculum.
Thus far, consumer education courses have tended to focus only on “good buymanship” (Scherf, 1974; Uhl, 1970) – how to maximize current family consumption by stretching dollars wisely and how to maximize future family consumption through wise savings and investments – but topics such as consumer protection, consumer redress, and “values clarification” have received increasing attention.
Typical of the more innovative programs being conducted in the public schools is one being run in Irving, Texas. Twelfth-grade students are asked to simulate the actions they would have to take if they were to become totally independent from their families upon high-school graduation. They are required to search the want ads for a suitable job (for which they are qualified) and then plan a life style for themselves supported by the take-home pay of that job.
They must find an apartment (with furniture), purchase an appropriate wardrobe, budget for cleaning and laundry expenses, open charge accounts, plan and conduct food-shopping trips, and pay for and maintain automobiles. The course has helped many students achieve a well-planned independent life, while it has helped others see the need for further schooling or for improving their relationships with their families (Mahan, 1972).
The consumer education programs administered by local governments are numerous and diverse. There are consumer affairs offices and other agencies in many localities which devote a great deal of time, effort and resources to consumer education programs. Some programs are designed to help consumers with special needs – such as the poor, Spanish-speaking, or elderly – and others are more general in nature and, in effect, attempt to help a broad spectrum of individuals.
Information about local government programs can be found in two studies by the Office of Consumer Affairs (1973;1974). Several private, non-profit organizations such as Consumers Union, the Council of Better Business Bureaus, and the American Council on Consumer Interests are extremely active in consumer education.
These organizations conduct consumer education classes, publish consumer magazines and newsletters, produce consumer messages for the media, and provide consumer education teachers with valuable teaching materials. They also provide guest speakers for classes and meetings, conduct conferences where consumer education teachers can exchange ideas, and sponsor workshops.
The Consumer Services Program of the Baltimore Urban League is an example of a highly successful consumer education program run by a non-profit organization. This program involves the teaching of six-week mini-courses in consumer education to community groups and clubs (e.g., Golden Agers, school parent groups, church groups, etc.).
Participants are awarded certificates upon completion of these courses. Besides the courses, the program also has its staff members working on a one-to-one basis with approximately three to five families, helping them set up their monthly budgets and plan purchases of food, clothing, and other household items.
Those involved with the Baltimore Urban League program attribute much of its success to the strategy of working with incentives (i.e., the certificates) and established groups (rather than newly-formed ones)(Johnson, 1975). Consumer education programs are also now being run by many business firms.
Profit-making organizations are providing consumer education teachers with a wealth of booklets, transparencies, film strips, product samples, and guest speakers. They are sponsoring consumer education media messages (e.g., Giant Foods (see Peterson, 1974)) and are even conducting in-service courses for teachers of consumer education (e.g., Montgomery Ward).
Some firms, like the publishers of Changing Times magazine, have given considerable support to consumer education programs because this support has produced immediate returns for them (i.e., more subscriptions). Other firms, like the major department store chains (e.g., Sears, J.C.
Penney), have made substantial investments in consumer education in anticipation of long-run returns. They apparently feel that support of consumer education can lead in the long-run to more consumer satisfaction with their products and, perhaps, less government interference with their operations. HYPOTHESIZED CHANGES IN CONSUMER BEHAVIOR Although many of the current consumer education programs have been in existence for quite some time, there has not been any research reported on how these programs have affected consumer behavior.
Clearly, cross-sectional and longitudinal studies should be conducted to try to measure how much various consumer education programs have changed consumer attitudes, preferences, habits, and so on. It should be recognized, however, that research in this area will be filled with many obstacles.
- It will be difficult to determine whether a change in consumer behavior has been caused by a consumer education program or by other confounding or intervening variables.
- Moreover, with some programs, it may take long periods of time before program-induced changes in consumer behavior can be detected – the learning process can be very slow.
A group of hypotheses that could be tested when researching the effects of consumer education programs are presented and discussed below. These hypotheses describe the long-run changes that the author expects to occur in the behavior of most consumers as a result of continued exposure to a Variety of consumer education programs.
- In the absence of any past research from which inferences could be drawn, it was necessary to rely upon deductive reasoning to develop these hypotheses.
- Hypothesis 1: Consumers will express their wants and needs to sellers more explicitly and more frequently.
- Exposure to consumer education programs should allow consumers to obtain a better understanding of what the marketplace has to offer then in terms of product variations and services.
In addition, exposure to consumer education courses which cover areas like “values clarification” or “life adjustment” – such as the course offered at a Portland, Oregon high school in which students simulate real-life adult experiences including getting married, buying a home and car, and getting a divorce (“Divorce Course”, 1974) – should help many consumers obtain a better understanding of what they want and need from life and from the marketplace.
An improved understanding of both what is available and what is wanted from the marketplace should result in an improved ability among consumers to state explicitly what they want and need to sellers in the form of unsolicited letters, responses to marketing research questions, or other methods of communication.
Suggestion letters from consumers should become more helpful to sellers and questionnaire responses of consumers should become less ambiguous. Moreover, consumers should become more likely to communicate their wants and needs to sellers as they learn, through consumer education, more about how consumer feedback can influence the decisions of these sellers.
- The number of suggestion letters and questionnaire responses received by sellers should increase.
- Hypothesis 2: Consumers will seek out and use larger amounts of information to help them make price, quality, and service comparisons before making a purchase.
- By teaching consumers where consumer information can be found, how it can be used, and what the benefits are of using it, consumer education programs should tend to lower the perceived costs (in lost time and energy) and increase the perceived benefits of searching for and using consumer information.
This, in turn, should lead consumers to seek out and use larger quantities of information from consumer magazines or advertising, unit pricing, open dating, and nutritional content disclosures before making a purchase. Consumers must he expected to “buy” more of a commodity (information) which they perceive to be lower in price and higher in quality than it was previously.
Hypothesis 3: Consumers will make a progressively larger proportion of their purchases from sellers who offer relatively large amounts of easily-acquired information about their products and services. A seller who provides consumers with a considerable amount of information about his product(s) or service(s) (e.g., ingredients, uses, warranties, unit price, advantages, etc.), through either advertising, label disclosures, or salespersons, will save consumers time and energy that could be lost in searching for this information.
If consumers (as a consequence of consumer education) begin to seek out and use larger amounts of information before making purchases -as hypothesized above – then they should become progressively more appreciative of sellers who can save them information search costs.
- As consumers develop more favorable attitudes toward information-providing sellers, the likelihood that they will actually prefer these sellers over others will increase.
- Thus, consumers can be expected to make an increasing proportion of their purchases from information-providing sellers.
- They will not buy inferior or overpriced products from these sellers, but will buy the products of these sellers with increasing frequency in those cases where all products competing in a market are perceived to have otherwise similar attributes.
Hypothesis 4: Consumers will make a progressively larger proportion of their purchases from sellers who conduct relatively large consumer education programs. Over time, large numbers of people can be expected to be exposed to consumer education programs.
- As more people benefit from their experience with these programs, more are likely to become supporters of consumer education.
- One way these people might show their support for consumer education is by becoming loyal patrons of sellers whose consumer education programs they personally found to be beneficial.
Thus, consumers can be expected to make an increasing proportion of their purchases from sellers who conduct relatively large consumer education programs. Evidence that this trend may have already begun can possibly be found in the rapidly improving profit figures of Giant Food, Inc., a firm which is very active in consumer education (Levy, 1975).
Hypothesis 5: Consumers will buy less products that are potentially harmful to their own health or to the health of others. Consumer education programs often teach consumers about nutrition, product safety, health care, and environmental issues. As more people are exposed to these programs, one can expect a decline in purchase of products which could produce health problems.
Consumers will become less likely to buy products such as cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, sugar-laden foods, low-mileage automobiles, or aerosol sprays, and they will become more likely to buy products such as low-cholesterol foods, automobiles with safety and pollution-control features, or dental floss.
It should be noted, however, that it will be necessary to reinforce constantly an inclination that might develop among consumers to buy safer, healthier products. If messages about nutrition, product safety, health care, and pollution are not constantly received by consumers, they may forget what they have learned in these areas.
For example, many consumers seem to have forgotten what they learned about the dangers of cigarette smoking in the absence of frequent anti-smoking messages. The volume of these messages was reduced significantly following the banning from the broadcast media of cigarette advertising in 1971.
Since that time, cigarette sales have increased steadily, reversing several years of decline. Hypothesis 6: Consumers will more actively seek remedies, redress, or restitution when dissatisfied with a product, service, or marketing practice. Through exposure to consumer education programs, consumers should learn where to go when they are dissatisfied with an experience they have had in the marketplace.
They should learn which agencies, organizations, and individuals can help them if they have been deceived or have found a practice they would like to see discontinued. They should also learn how consumers can achieve highly favorable results by filing complaint letters and lawsuits.
- This knowledge should lead consumers to become much more active in filing complaints and lawsuits against business firms.
- Hypothesis 7: Consumers will become more active participants in the debates over legislation that could affect the workings of the marketplace.
- Consumer education programs should teach consumers about the important role that government plays in our economy.
They should learn about the laws which exist to protect and help consumers and about the legislative history of these laws. They should discover how important it is, from their point of view, to have their voices heard, along with those of representatives of businesses and government, during debates over legislation that could affect their ability to obtain what they want and need from the marketplace.
Consumers should therefore become more active in writing to legislators, lobbying for or against legislation, testifying before legislative committees, and supporting politically-active consumer organizations. A FEW COMMENTS The possibility that the changes hypothesized above might occur in the very near future should be recognized.
Business firms could respond to a changing consumer population, and the changing practices of competing firms, by trying to outdo one another in creating progressive, extensive consumer education programs. At the same time, legislators might respond to the increased political activity of consumers by starting and funding new consumer education programs and by requiring consumer education courses for all public school students.
- The amount of exposure consumers would receive to consumer education programs could therefore increase rapidly, leading to the hypothesized changes in consumer behavior at an earlier point in time.
- No matter when they occur, the changes hypothesized above will probably occur more rapidly among middle and upper class consumers, younger consumers, and consumers living in or near large metropolitan areas.
These groups are more likely to be exposed to consumer education courses, messages, and materials through school programs, the media, and friends. They are also more likely to learn about the workings of the marketplace at a fast pace. Changes in the behavior of poor, elderly, and rural consumers will probably come much more slowly.
Consumer educators will have to do a considerable amount of research to find the best strategies for “marketing” consumer education to these segments. It should be noted that nothing has been mentioned thus far about the consumer of the future paying less attention to advertising or buying more lower-priced, private-label brands – two results that many people might expect from continued exposure to consumer education programs.
These changes have not been hypothesized to occur because it seems equally plausible to expect opposite results. Consumers could pay greater attention to advertising as part of their efforts to acquire more information before making purchases. Similarly, consumers could buy less private label brands because of an increased desire to buy familiar, widely-available products about which they have a great deal of favorable information.
Finally, it should be mentioned that if consumer behavior changes in the directions hypothesized above as a consequence of consumer education, it will not necessarily be totally beneficial for consumers. If consumers buy less cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, and low-mileage automobiles, then unemployment could increase.
If consumers tie up the courts with lawsuits against sellers, then crime in the streets could increase. And if consumers lobby for more consumer protection legislation, then prices charged by sellers could increase (to cover the cost of compliance with new laws).
- In short, consumer education might unintentionally hurt the interests of many consumers.
- CONCLUSIONS In the future, consumers will go through a different consumer socialization process than consumers do today.
- They will spend more time in consumer education classes and will see and hear more consumer education messages.
This new socialization process can be expected to produce consumers who will be more willing and able to state what they want and need to sellers and who will also be more willing and able to file complaints and lawsuits against sellers. In addition, this process can be expected to produce consumers who will seek out and use more information before making purchases and who will tend to make an increasing amount of these purchases from sellers who (1) provide large amounts of easily-acquired consumer information, (2) conduct consumer education programs, and (3) offer products that present little danger to the public’s health.
- Finally, this process can be expected to produce consumers who will fight more actively in the political arena for legislation which serves their interests.
- All of these hypotheses should be tested by conducting cross-sectional and longitudinal studies of how the many present-day consumer education programs have affected consumer behavior.
REFERENCES Brooks, Thomas M. “Consumer Education: Can We Improve Our Score?” Journal of Home Economics, 65 (September, 1973), 33-35. Day, George S. and William K. Brandt. “Consumer Research and the Evaluation of Information Disclosure Requirements: The Case of Truth in Lending,” Journal of Consumer Research, 1 (June, 1974), 21-32.
Divorce Course,” Time (December 2, 1974), p.92. Goetting, Marsha. “Let’s Put Consumer Education in Prison,” Journal of Consumer Affairs, 8 (Winter, 1974), 198-203. Isakson, Hans R. and Alex R. Maurizi. “The Consumer Economics of Unit Pricing,” Journal of Marketing Research 10 (August, 1973), 277-85. Jacoby, Jacob, Donald E.
Speller, and Carol A. Kohn. “Brand Choice Behavior As A Function of Information Load,” Journal of Marketing Research, 11 (February, 1974), 63-9. Johnson, Edna D. “Remarks by Edna D. Johnson,” A speech given before the White House conference on consumer education, March 11, 1975.
Levy, Claudia. “Giant’s Net Shows Gain Over ’74,” Washington Post (June 4, 1974), p. D1. Mahan, Linda.,”Twelfth-Year Itch,” Consumer Education Forum, 3 (Spring, 1972), 1. Office of Consumer Affairs. “Directory of Consumer Education Activities Conducted by State, County, and City Consumer Agencies,” mimeo, U.S.
Dept. of Health, Education, and Welfare, June, 1974. Office of Consumer Affairs. “Federally-Funded Consumer Programs in Low-Income Communities: A Preliminary Compilation,” mimeo, U.S. Dept. of Health, Education, and Welfare, May, 1973. Peterson, Esther. “Consumerism As a Retailer’s Asset,” Harvard Business Review, 52 (May-June, 1974), 91-101.
Scherf, Gerhard, W.H. “Consumer Education As A Means of Alleviating Dissatisfaction,” Journal of Consumer Affairs, 8 (Summer, 1974), 61-75. Seitz, Wesley D. “Consumer Education As the Means to Attain Efficient Market Performance,” Journal of Consumer Affairs, 6 (Winter, 1972), 199-201. Uhl, Joseph N. and Others.
Survey and Evaluation of Consumer Education Programs in the United States, Willett, Sandra L. “Preliminary Statement,” A handout prepared for the Panel on Consult Education of the 1974 meeting of the Education Commission of the States, June 21, 1974.
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What is the conclusion of consumer education?
Conclusion – At last, it is concluded that consumer awareness means being aware of having the knowledge about the several consumer production laws, rectified techniques, and consumer rights which include the right to protection of health and safety from goods and services that consumers purchase, right to be informed about the price, quality, quantity, potency, and standard of goods.
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What are the three components of consumer health education?
Consumer Health has three components: health information, health products, and health services. Health information plays a big role in the life of individuals. It gives details that people can use to make informed decisions about their health and of others.
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