ISO’s magazine ISO Management Systems publishes what it describes as “a rarity” in its latest issue – an article giving the results of one of the few surveys carried out by a professional market research organization to uncover just what consumers know or care about ISO 9000.

“The findings are of vital interest to the thousands of organizations worldwide that invest in ISO 9001:2000,” comments the ISO magazine.

They introduce their findings by asking, “Wouldn’t it be useful for companies that invest in ISO 9001:2000 implementation and certification to have some hard data on whether this improves how consumers perceive their organization, its products and services?

“Many surveys on the impacts and benefits of the ISO 9000 quality management standards have been carried out, but most have dealt with business-to-business relationships and issues. This article breaks new ground in presenting the main findings of a survey to discover the knowledge, perceptions and attitudes of consumers towards ISO 9000.”

The survey was carried out in the United Kingdom with the support of the consumer organization Which? It was performed by Ipsos, a leading survey organization, which interviewed 1 012 British adults, using an in-home, face-to-face technique.

The survey revealed that more than one quarter (26 %) of the general adult population was already aware of ISO 9000. (The survey used the generic title of the ISO 9000 series because it was aimed at the general public. In fact, the only certification standard in the series is ISO 9001:2000.)

Awareness was concentrated among working people, was higher among males, in higher income groups, in higher-status social grades and ages 35-54. The authors say that this probably reflects the higher probability that such people will be influenced by working in a business environment, in which ISO 9000 is well known.

They add: “The results also suggest positive attitudes towards ISO 9000 and companies certified to the standard. People tend to perceive products and services associated with ISO 9000 as being of higher quality.”

James Tannock and Henry Brown say that more positive attitudes are also associated with greater awareness, the most positive being among consumers who were spontaneously aware of ISO 9000 and those who had purchased a product or service backed by certification to the standard. These results suggest to the authors that businesses could benefit by increasing the general awareness levels of ISO 9000 in their consumer market.

The authors go on to say, “The results of the questions asking about the importance of ISO 9001:2000 certification in making purchasing decisions also suggest potential business advantage from wider consumer knowledge about the standard, especially for services provided directly to the consumer.

“Consumers who were already aware of ISO 9000 were more likely to choose this factor as the most important issue in purchasing decisions. Overall, the survey results suggest ISO 9001:2000 certification presents potential business and marketing advantages for a company when dealing directly with the consumer.”

In the authors’ view, these results probably reflect an improved consumer experience when dealing with an ISO 9001:2000 certified organization.

The same issue of ISO Management Systems magazine, which is available in English, French and Spanish, includes articles on the new ISO 22000 standard for safe food supply chains, the new ISO/IEC 27001 standard for information security, the use made of ISO 9001:2000 by the world’s biggest oil company, implementation of the ISO 14001 environmental management system standard in China, and German standards for the service sector.

Note:
ISO does not itself audit or assess the management systems of organizations to verify that they have been implemented in confority with the requirements of ISO 9001:2000 and ISO does not issue ISO 9001:2000 certificates. The auditing and certification of management systems is carried out independently of ISO. The ISO 9001:2000 issued by certification bodies are issued under their own responsibility and not under ISO's name.