ISO and the consumer

Why are standards important to consumers?

Have you ever wondered why you can use your bank card anywhere in the world?
Or noticed that your baby’s toy has no sharp edges?

It is because they comply with standards - technical specifications codified into voluntary agreements.

Standards often define the characteristics of products and services. They are developed in an open process, reflecting the views of many stakeholders including technical experts, government representatives and consumers. The more active consumers are in developing standards, the more likely it is that products and services meet their needs – a win-win situation for both the consumer and manufacturers or service providers.

International Standards also help support basic consumer rights, such as the right to safety and the right to be informed, which have their origins in former US president John F. Kennedy’s declaration in 1962. More information can be found on the website of the international consumer association, Consumers International.

Standards also help support basic consumer protection (enshrined in the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection) by helping to raise levels of quality, safety, reliability, efficiency and interchangeability.

Want to get involved?

Find out more about being a consumer representative.

Join us on facebook  Join ISO's consumer committee on facebook or join ISO’s official Facebook page

ISO's work with the consumer

ISO’s Committee on Consumer Policy (COPOLCO) is the body responsible for promoting consumer interests in standardization. Its mission is to:

COPOLCO encourages consumer participation in standard development and contributes to policy decisions of ISO and its national members at all levels.

COPOLCO is made up of ISO’s members (national standards bodies) who designate a person or organization responsible for consumer liaison within each country.

Work priorities

Each year COPOLCO sets priorities on aspects of technical work in ISO or IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) of most interest to consumers.

Read more about COPOLCO's work priorities.

ISO and services

For consumers, high quality services are very important. ISO develops International Standards for services to ensure high quality the world over.

Learn more about ISO and services

Engaging Consumers

COPOLCO has a number of resources to support standards developers in engaging with consumers and reflecting their needs in standards.

More resources can be found in the section Engaging Consumers.

Involving consumers

Practical guidance for standards development bodies

A free of charge distance learning tutorial useful for those new to standardization and consumer policy.