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) 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, etcetera).
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.
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.).
Two precursor organizations to the modern consumer organization are standards organizations and consumers leagues. Both of these appeared in the United States around 1900.
Trade associations and professional societies began to establish standards organizations to reduce industry waste and increase productivity. Consumers leagues modeled themselves after trade unions in their attempts to improve the marketplace with boycotts in the same way that trade unions sought to improve working conditions with strike action.
Consumer organizations by country
- Verein für Konsumenteninformation (VKI), Vienna
- המועצה הישראלית לצרכנות (Consumer Council Israel)
- Akhil Bhartiya Grahak Panchayat
- Consumer Guidance Society of India
- All India Consumer Protection Organization
- The Consumers Eye India
- United India Consumer's Association
- Grahak Shakti Bengaluru-Karnataka non-profit non-political voluntary consumer organisation working for the empowerment of Consumer since the 1990s.
- Consumer Awareness, Protection and Education Council (Cape Council) is a voluntary consumer organization based in Bangalore. This organization, chaired by D. Manmath, works for the welfare of consumers. [www.capecouncil.org Cape Council].
- Consortium of South India Consumer Organisations (COSICO) spread out in 6 States of Southern India Viz: Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra, Telangana, Puduchery and Kerala. The idea is to share, work together and plan joint action in strengthening the consumer movement in these states.
- The Consumentenbond (founded in 1953), over 600,000 members.
Aside from this general consumer norganisation, 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)
- The Consumers Eye Pakistan (founded in 2005) (TCEP) is a non profit registered social welfare organization (NGO), for the protection of Consumer rights in Pakistan since 2005. The Consumers Eye Pakistan’s vision is a world where everyone has access to safe and sustainable goods and services, where the strength of the collective power is used for the good of consumers throughout Pakistan. TCEP’s is working to put the rights of consumers at the heart of decision-making. TCEP host seminars and events especially on occasion of World Consumer Rights Day & World Standards Day every year with the collaboration of PSQCA and other organizations related to consumer rights protection, to create consumer awareness against unregistered, Substandard and counterfeit Products and Services. The Consumers Eye Pakistan cooperates with PSQCA to promote Quality Standard Culture in Pakistan. TCEP is actively involved with PSQCA in improving quality and standards of the citizens by advocating accountability and code of conduct in government and society to promote standardization and Quality consciousness culture in Pakistan for the benefit of consumers. TCEP’s representatives have been going with the PSQCA raiding Task force team to open markets as an independent observer. TCEP represent consumers as member in different technical Committees of Standardization in PSQCA. The Consumers Eye Pakistan campaigns on the domestic and international issues that matter to consumers. TCEP seeks to hold corporations to account and demands government action to put consumer concerns first, acting as a global watchdog: campaigning against any behaviour that threatens, ignores or abuses the principles of consumer protection. The Consumers Eye Pakistan also organizes workshops, seminars and colloquiums throughout the Pakistan, bringing together people from different sections of the society, including politicians, economists, and experts from related fields, to create awareness and build opinion on nationally important issues. Carrying out studies and researches on various issues related to Consumers and consumables. TCEP publish material for consumer awareness in Pakistan. The Consumers Eye Pakistan have introduced an annual series of awards “Quality-Standard Award” in 2010 to appreciate for the highly valuable Products/Brands and services in Pakistan. This program has the official collaboration of Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority Ministry of Science and technology (Government of Pakistan) also have support of other organizations. Quality Standard Award is a new concept to develop a relationship of trust among consumers, producers and service providers in Pakistan. The Consumer Eye Pakistan is working to build a better Pakistan. We believe that better work with commitment and honesty can improve people's lives.”
- Consumer Voice Pakistan (CVP) (founded in 2002) is a non-profit Voluntary Social Welfare organization NGO; Working Since 2002 to empower consumers in Pakistan, with the aim of getting Pakistani consumers a fairer deal to put the rights of consumers at the heart of decision-making. CVP’s vision is a world where everyone access to safe and sustainable goods and services, where the strength of the collective power is used for the good of consumers. CVP’s objective is to protect the interests of the consumer, making the consumer conscious of the malpractices perpetuated in the marketplace. Consumers Voice (Pakistan) CVP formed to protect and educate consumers, represent them on all forums, and make sure that consumer goods and services are given highest priority for the benefits of consumers. Consumers Voice (Pakistan) CVP campaigns on the domestic and international issues that matter to consumers in Pakistan. This means achieving real changes in government policy and corporate behaviour while raising Voice for awareness of rights and responsibilities CVP seeks to hold corporations to account and demands government action to put consumer concerns first, acting as a watchdog: campaigning against any behaviour that threatens, ignores or abuses the principles of consumer protection. This modern movement is essential to secure a fair safe and sustainable future for consumers in a marketplace increasingly dominated by international corporations. In Pakistan, the consumer is left at the sympathy of shopkeepers and manufacturers. The markets are full of substandard and forged products are widely available for general public or consumers and these foods are semi expired, low standard and hazard for healthy lives. CVP campaign to end the menace and create awareness among the people regarding the consumer rights; it includes adequate food, clothing, shelter, health care, education and safe drinking water in Pakistan. Consumer VOICE Pakistan (CVP) publishes monthly Consumer VOICE magazine in Pakistan.
Republic of Ireland
- Asociatia Nationala pentru Protectia Consumatorilor si Promovarea Programelor si Strategiilor din Romania/ National Association for Consumers Protection and Promotion of Programs and Strategies from Romania
- Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios (OCU)
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).
- Uganda Consumer Action Network (U-CAN) is a non-government, not-for profit organisation founded in 2007 and registered as a company limited by guarantee. It works towards ensuring that consumers, especially the most vulnerable (rural poor, disabled, elderly and women) get value for their money through quick, easy, accessible and affordable alternate dispute resolution mechanisms.
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:
- CAMRA - a lobbying group concerned with the tradition and quality of beer.
- The Citizens Advice Bureau, a free service that provides legal advice, practical help and information on consumer rights across the country.
- Consumer Council for Water (formerly known as Watervoice)
- Consumer Direct (abolished per 31 March 2012 with its functions being passed to local trading standards departments and Citizens Advice Bureau)
- Consumer Focus (formerly National Consumer Council). The Government announced as part of the October 2010 spending review that Consumer Focus will be abolished, with the Consumer Direct helpline taken over by Citizens Advice. Some of Consumer Focus' functions would transfer to Citizens Advice Bureaux, Citizens Advice Scotland and the General Consumer Council for Northern Ireland following the Public Bodies Act 2011 and any necessary secondary legislation. The transfer is expected to begin April 2013 and be complete by April 2014.
- General Consumer Council of Northern Ireland
- Good Garage Scheme, an automobile repair shop motoring scheme
- Which? - formerly the Consumers Association - a consumer advocacy organisation which has substantial powers (for example to take representative actions under the Competition Act 1998) but which is primarily a lobbying organisation funded entirely by subscriptions to its regular consumer information magazine.
- Alliance for Justice
- Better Business Bureau
- Consumer Action
- Consumer Federation of California
- Consumers Union, publishers of Consumer Reports
- Consumer Watchdog, formerly the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights
- Public Citizen
- Consumer Federation of America
- Center for Science in the Public Interest (food/nutrition)
- National Consumers League
- U.S. Public Interest Research Group
- HGRBS - Honor Guard Residential Business Services (advocacy for private home decision makers getting true results from contractors]
By 1969 most capitalist countries with developed marketplaces hosted consumer organizations that published consumer magazines which reported the results of product testing. Internationally, the idea of consumer organizations spread from Consumers Union in the United States starting in 1956. The growth of interest in product testing journalism might be explained by increased consumption of mass-marketed products in and before that period. That increased international consumption itself was an effect of the aftermath of World War II.
|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||Forbruker Rapporten||Norway||Forbrukerradet (Consumers Council)||1953||169,000||235,000|
|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.|
|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. 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. 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.
- "Cromarty, CAMRA and crazy cask cancellation".
- "Consumer Protection | Laws | fraud | government regulation | consumer rights". www.premiercallcentre.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-04-06.
- 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. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
- "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).
- Super-Complaints - BERR Archived 2007-02-05 at the Wayback Machine
- Hilton 2009, p. 25.
- Hilton 2009, p. 26.
- Thorelli, Hans B.; Thorelli, Sarah V. (1977). Consumer information systems and consumer policy. Cambridge, Mass.: Ballinger Pub. Co. pp. 327–60. ISBN 978-0884102717.
- Hilton 2009, p. 28.
- Hilton 2009, p. 29.
- Hilton, Matthew (2009). Prosperity for all : consumer activism in an era of globalization. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. ISBN 9780801446443.