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Consumer organization

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Consumer organizations are advocacy groups that seek to protect people from corporate abuse like unsafe products, predatory lending, false advertising, astroturfing and pollution.

Consumer Organizations may operate via protests, litigation, campaigning, or lobbying. They may engage in single-issue advocacy (e.g., the British Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), which campaigned against keg beer and for cask ale)[1] or they may set themselves up as more general consumer watchdogs, such as the Consumers' Association in the UK.

One common means of providing consumers useful information is the independent comparative survey or test of products or services, involving different manufacturers or companies (e.g., Which?, Consumer Reports, etc.).

Another arena where consumer organizations have operated is food safety. The needs for campaigning in this area are less easy to reconcile with their traditional methods, since the scientific, dietary or medical evidence is normally more complex than in other arenas, such as the electric safety of white goods. The current standards on mandatory labelling, in developed countries, have in part been shaped by past lobbying by consumer groups.

The aim of consumer organizations may be to establish and to attempt to enforce consumer rights. Effective work has also been done, however, simply by using the threat of bad publicity to keep companies' focus on the consumers' point of view.[2]

Consumer organizations may attempt to serve consumer interests by relatively direct actions such as creating and/or disseminating market information, and prohibiting specific acts or practices, or by promoting competitive forces in the markets which directly or indirectly affect consumers (such as transport, electricity, communications, etc.).[2]


Two precursor organizations to the modern consumer organization are standards organizations and consumers leagues.[3] Both of these appeared in the United States around 1900.[3]

Trade associations and professional societies began to establish standards organizations to reduce industry waste and increase productivity.[3] Consumer leagues modeled themselves after trade unions in their attempts to improve the market with boycotts in the same way that trade unions sought to improve working conditions with strike action.[3]

Consumer organizations by country[edit]

International consumer organizations[edit]

  • Consumers International - International NGO
  • ANEC (Europe; focus on standardization)
  • BEUC (Europe; French: Bureau Européen des Unions de Consommateurs)
  • ICRT The only independent international organization for consumer research and testing

National organizations[edit]






  • Association de défense d'éducation et d'information du consommateur (ADEIC)
  • Association Contre les Abus des Banques Européennes (ACABE)
  • Association Force ouvrière des consommateurs (AFOC)
  • Association Léo-Lagrange de défense du consommateur (ALLDC)
  • Confédération générale du logement (CGL)
  • Confédération nationale du logement (CNL)
  • Association pour l'information et la défense des consommateurs salariés (Indecosa-CGT)
  • Confédération nationale des associations familiales catholiques (CNAFC)
  • Conseil national des associations familiales laïques (CNAFAL)
  • Confédération syndicale des familles (CSF)
  • Consommation Logement Cadre de vie (CLCV)
  • Familles de France (FF)
  • Familles rurales (FR)
  • Fédération nationale des associations d'usagers des transports (FNAUT)
  • Union fédérale des consommateurs - Que choisir (UFC-Que Choisir)
  • Union nationale des associations familiales (UNAF)


Hong Kong[edit]






Logo of the Consumentenbond

Aside from this general consumer organisation, the Netherlands is home to many categorical consumer organisations whose working terrain is limited to a certain part of the markets. Examples of categorical organisations include:

  • The Vereniging Eigen Huis ("Own House Association", for house owners; over 650,000 members)
  • The Vereniging Consument & Geldzaken ("Consumer & Monetary Affairs Association", for financial consumers, of banking and insurance products; 32,000 members)
  • The Woonbond ("League for Living", for renters)

Finally, there is a business regulation agency, charged with competition oversight, sector-specific regulation of several sectors, and enforcement of consumer protection laws:


  • Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) is a statutory board to oversight consumer protection and anti-competition malpractices (e.g. price fixing, bid rigging, market sharing and production control) in markets.[4]
  • Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE) is a NGO that promotes consumer interests and fair trading.[5]


The Swiss Alliance of Consumer Organisations

The Swiss Alliance of Consumer Organisations is the umbrella organisation of the three Swiss consumer organisations (the Stiftung für Konsumentenschutz (SKS) of German-speaking Switzerland, the Fédération romande des consommateurs (FRC) of French-speaking Switzerland and the Associazione consumatrici e consumatori della Svizzera italiana (ACSI) of Italian-speaking Switzerland).[6]

United Kingdom[edit]

Which? is the most influential UK consumers association.

In the United Kingdom, the Enterprise Act 2002 allows consumer bodies that have been approved by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to be designated as "super-complainants" to the Competition and Markets Authority. These super-complainants are intended to, "strengthen the voice of consumers," who are "unlikely to have access individually to the kind of information necessary to judge whether markets are failing for them." Eight have been designated as of 2007:[7]

United States[edit]

The Consumers Union was founded in 1936.

Consumer magazines[edit]

By 1969 most capitalist countries with developed marketplaces hosted consumer organizations that published consumer magazines which reported the results of product testing.[8] Internationally, the idea of consumer organizations spread from Consumers Union in the United States starting in 1956.[8] The growth of interest in product testing journalism might be explained by increased consumption of mass-marketed products in and before that period.[8] That increased international consumption itself was an effect of the aftermath of World War II.[8]

Consumer magazine circulation[9][10]
Year magazine started Magazine Country Publisher Year publisher founded 1969 sales 1975 sales
1936 Consumer Reports USA Consumers Union 1936 1,800,000 2,300,000
1953 Consumentengids Netherlands Consumentenbond 1953 256,000 470,000
1953 Forbruker Rapporten Norway Forbrukerradet (Consumers Council) 1953 169,000 235,000
1957 Which? UK Consumers Association 1956 600,000 700,000
1957 Rad och Ron Sweden Statens Institut for Konsumenfragor (Institute for Consumer Information) 1957 104,718 n.a.
1959 Test-Achats Belgium Association des Consommateurs / Verbruikersunie (AC/V) 1957 102,235 240,000
1959 Choice Australia Australian Consumers' Association 1959 67,204 120,000
1961 Rad og Resultater Denmark Statens Husholdningsrad (Home Economics Council) 1935 28,100 n.a.
1961 Que Choisir France Union Federale des Consommateurs (UFC) 1951 15,000 30,000
1961 Konsument Austria Verein fur Konsumenteninformation (VKI) 1960 25,000 n.a.
1963 Canadian Consumer Canada Consumers' Association of Canada 1947 43,000 n.a.
1964 Taenk Denmark Danske Husmodres Forbrugerrad (Danish Housewives Council) 1947 48,000 n.a.
1965 Il Consumatore Italy Unione Nazionale Consumatori 1965 100,000 n.a.
1966 Test Germany Stiftung Warentest 1964 68,000 250,000
1970 50 Millions de Consummateurs France Institut National de la Consommation 1967 0 300,000
2012 Consumer Voice Pakistan Consumer Voice Pakistan 2012 0 n.a

In the 25 years after World War II, there was a correlation between the number of people in a country who were purchasing cars and the popularity of consumer magazines.[11] In some cases, an increase in other consumer purchases seemed to drive popularity of consumer magazines, but the correlation was closest for populations who made decisions about buying cars.[11] The availability of consumer magazines comforted consumers when individuals in society suddenly became overwhelmed with marketplace decisions, and the popularity of magazines seemed to grow as more marketplace decisions became available.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Cromarty, CAMRA and crazy cask cancellation".
  2. ^ a b "Consumer Protection | Laws | fraud | government regulation | consumer rights". www.premiercallcentre.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2016-04-19. Retrieved 2016-04-06.
  3. ^ a b c d Rao, Hayagreeva (1998). "Caveat emptor: The construction of nonprofit consumer watchdog organizations" (PDF). The American Journal of Sociology. 103 (4): 912–961. doi:10.1086/231293. S2CID 143250168. Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 January 2012. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  4. ^ "Who We Are". Competition and Consumer Commission Association of Singapore. 26 April 2023. Retrieved 2024-01-04.
  5. ^ "Home". Consumer Association of Singapore. Retrieved 2024-01-04.
  6. ^ "Alliance of Consumer Organisations: United Together for the Consumers" Archived 2016-11-14 at the Wayback Machine, Federal Office of Public Health (page visited on 13 November 2016).
  7. ^ Super-Complaints - BERR Archived 2007-02-05 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ a b c d Hilton 2009, p. 25.
  9. ^ Hilton 2009, p. 26.
  10. ^ Thorelli, Hans B.; Thorelli, Sarah V. (1977). Consumer information systems and consumer policy. Cambridge, Mass.: Ballinger Pub. Co. pp. 327–60. ISBN 978-0884102717.
  11. ^ a b Hilton 2009, p. 28.
  12. ^ Hilton 2009, p. 29.