ISO has just published a new brochure  on the benefits of involving consumers in standards development, and how to achieve their participation.

Involving consumersWhy and how provides national standards bodies and other standards development organizations with practical guidance on achieving consumer participation in standardization.  It covers why and when to engage consumers, the added value of their participation, how to organize it effectively and what it means to be a consumer representative.  

The brochure also describes ISO’s Committee on Consumer Policy (COPOLCO), funding and training of consumer representatives, and resources and links for further study. Twenty-four case studies show how these different issues have been addressed, especially in a national or regional context.

Some key points are:

  • Standards are more market-relevant if they address consumer concerns, and if consumers are involved in their development
  • Consumer preferences, societal issues, and trade agreements are driving an expansion of standards work programmes, which makes consumer involvement essential
  • There are many positive ways that consumers can influence the standards dialogue
  • Consumer representatives should be independent from commercial interests and able to communicate the viewpoint of the end-user consumer.  They should also be able to feed back their knowledge gained from standards experiences to other consumers.
  • Consumers lack resources. They need financial and other support to participate in standards-setting, especially at the international level.
  • Consumers need to be made aware of the importance of standards and standards participation, and could benefit from training in standards procedures and effective participation.

Involving consumers – Why and how – Practical guidance for standards development bodies is available in English and French editions from the ISO Central Secretariat through the ISO Store or by contacting the Marketing, Communication & Informationn). The 32-page brochure can also be – downloaded as a PDF file free of charge from the ISO Website.