Rapid technological progress, especially in information technologies, advancing globalization and, not least, the increasing withdrawal of the state from public services opens up new opportunities for consumers. Yet, at the same time they also pose challenges to consumers.
Effective consumer policy must protect consumers, enable them to make sovereign decisions and ensure that they can assert their rights.
Together with policy makers, we develop structures that can effectively achieve the consumer policy objectives of protection and empowerment. We are committed to develop an appropriate institutional set-up of consumer policy.
The toolbox of consumer policy is diverse: it ranges from prohibitions to incentives, and from 'nudges' to consumer information and education. Not every tool is suitable for every type of market failure and consumer policy challenge, and they can - depending on the respective consumer groups and context - exert different effects.
We support consumer policy makers in evaluating the effectiveness and efficiency of consumer policy tools. We propose measures to adjust the mix of tools so that maximum benefit for consumers is achieved with the lowest possible unintended side effects. Our work is evidence-based and takes into account international experience.
Consumers are no rational "supercomputers" that can receive, process and include all the information they encounter in all of their decisions. In fact, findings of behavioral economics suggest that consumer behavior is guided by emotions, impulses, routines and bounded rationality. However, these findings still too rarely find their way into consumer policy interventions.
Our understanding is that consumer policy has to start with the actual behavior of consumers. We are committed to policies inspired by behavioral economics. Together with consumer policy makers, we work to understand consumer behavior systematically and align consumer policy measures accordingly. That way, we can turn "well-intentioned" finally into "well done".
Consumers move daily in numerous markets and consumer worlds with different and constantly changing market conditions and challenges. At the same time, the expectations and demands of consumers change in these markets, for example regarding their efficiency or in terms of issues such as sustainability.
We support consumer policy makers in analyzing developments in consumer markets from a consumer perspective and deriving recommendations for action. For this, we focus on thorough research and an active dialogue with all relevant stakeholders.