International Standards have a positive influence on an increasingly wide range of consumer goods and services, as highlighted in a new edition of the leaflet, ISO and the consumer.

Just published by ISO (International Organization for Standardization), the four-page, colour leaflet gives a concise overview of the fruitful interactions that ensure consumer interests are taken into account in the development of standards ranging from ones for bicycles, baby carriages and bank cards, to newer areas such as consumer product safety, network services billing, product recall and cross-border trade of second-hand goods.

Standards often define the characteristics of a product or service, and the way to measure or test them. Consumer representatives aim to influence these characteristics so that products and services provide higher levels of:

  • Quality and reliability
  • Protection of safety and health
  • Compatibility between products
  • Consistency in the delivery of services
  • Greater choice of goods and services
  • Transparent product information
  • Fairer competition, hence lower prices for consumers
  • Suitability of products for vulnerable populations (children, the elderly)
  • Environmental protection.

When consumer representatives participate in developing standards, they are able to offer valuable perspectives. They can provide data on safety aspects and ensure that these are properly addressed, give examples of how products and services are actually used (or misused) in practice and give advice on communication issues.

Thanks in part to consumers' input, ISO's standardization programme extends beyond traditional product standards to encompass societal concerns such as the environment, social responsibility and standardization of services.

The leaflet concludes: "ISO values stakeholder input. By providing precious feedback and a 'reality check' for such characteristics as safety, ecology, reliability, efficiency, compatibility, customer service, transparent information, and reasonable cost, consumers play a vital role in ensuring ISO's global relevance and market responsiveness".

ISO and the consumer, which is published in English and French paper editions, is available free of charge (fee for postage and handling of bulk orders) from the ISO Central Secretariat through the ISO Store or by contacting the Marketing, Communication & Information department. The brochure is also available as a PDF file on the ISO Web site.

ISO and the consumer

Brochure providing a short introduction to standards work