Consumer protectionFinal report on adequate consumer policy in rural areas

The final report on the research project ‘Experimental workshops for rural consumer policy’ funded by the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV), was presented today. This project investigated how consumers in rural areas perceive advice and information on consumer issues and how they envision it in the future. The project on rural consumer policy was conducted between October 2019 and 2021 by Prof. Dr. Hanna Schramm-Klein (University of Siegen) together with her team from Prof. Schramm-Klein GmbH.

With a focus on digital solutions, these recommendations for action, among others, were developed:

  • Consumer information and advice: Since many people in rural areas are not aware of the options regarding consumer information and advice available, the visibility of and awareness for these services should be increased – online and offline.
  • Strengthening infrastructure: Barriers to accessing consumer information and counselling services are to be reduced – also by strengthening the digital infrastructure.
  • Enabling access: Especially elderly people often lack access to technology-based information and advisory services. This issue could be addressed by means of physical points of interaction, such as branches or facilities of public advisory institutions and mobile services.
  • Education on AI: To reduce reservations about AI-based technologies such as digital voice assistants or smart TV, consumers should be better informed about the potential and risks of AI. In addition, the user-friendliness and added value of AI-based systems should be increased.

Rita Hagl-Kehl, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection, noted: "What do rural citizens want in terms of consumer information and advice? Where are they already well-informed? Where is there a lack of information? And above all, what exactly can we do to better support consumers in their everyday lives in the future? The research project ‘Experimental workshops for rural consumer policy’ has given us valuable answers to these questions. We now see more clearly where we stand in the area of consumer information and advice in rural areas – and where we still need to start in the future. The recommendations for action developed for this are an important basis for us in shaping consumer policy in rural regions."

Source: BMJV

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