In consumer policy, there is a growing understanding that the average consumer does not exist, but that rather different consumer groups need to be distinguished. Such a differentiated approach leads to the question of how precisely vulnerable consumers as a group can be better reached in the context of consumer advice.
On behalf of the SPD parliamentary group in the NRW Landtag, ConPolicy conducted a study which analyzed whether the local neighborhood approach, which comes from social and housing policies, yields potential to improve consumer advice for this target group.
In addition to a systematic literature review, telephone interviews were conducted with experts from the field of consumer advice and the neighborhood management offices. In order to derive concrete recommendations for action, a model region was also identified: the city of Duisburg. An interim version of the report was discussed in April 2015 in the NRW Landtag as part of a focus group discussion with experts and practitioners in the field of consumer advice.
The results of the study can be summarized in five theses:
- Vulnerable consumers suffer two-fold.
- Consumer policy for vulnerable consumers should have a social-political component.
- The current consumer advice landscape does not cater to the specific needs of vulnerable consumers.
- The local neighborhood approach has the potential for improved counseling of vulnerable consumers.
- The potential of the local neighborhood approach to improve consumer advice for vulnerable consumer groups should be tested in pilot programs.
Link to the study.