M. R. Thilakam

epgp books





Learning Objectives


By teaching this lesson students will gain knowledge on consumer education and understand the rights and responsibilities of consumers.






The main objective of consumer education is to provide a better standard of living to the citizens of the country. With the increase in the economic activities, the purchasing power of an average family has also gone up. They purchase a variety of products to make their lives more comfortable. Selection of the appropriate products and services has become all the most important. To gain maximum satisfaction from the consumption of the right product it is important to educate the consumer. The consumer should know his own needs and requirements.


Definition and meaning of Consumer Education


Consumer Education is defined as a process of teaching, training and learning to improve knowledge and develop skills among consumers.


The Consumer Education relates to imparting knowledge to and developing skills in consumers regarding consumer rights, consumer laws, product quality- standards, health aspects of various products, availabilities of various public and private services, units and measurements, redressal of consumer problems and making correct choices while buying different commodities etc.


Consumer education is the preparation of an individual through skills, concepts and understanding that are required for everyday living to achieve maximum satisfaction and utilization of his resources. It is defined as education given to the consumer about various consumer goods and services, covering price, what the consumer can expect, standard trade practice, etc.


What is Consumer Education?


  • To an ordinary consumer, education is viewed as information to help him/her to make better choices of goods and services in the market place.
  • A businessperson views consumer education as activities that assist in selling services and products.
  • An administrator views consumer education as a programme to complement and supplement laws and regulations that foster trade competition. They believe that healthy competition and an educated body of consumers will ensure protection for the consumers.
  • A consumer advocate sees consumer education as providing information to consumers to protect them from fraudulent trade practices and exploitative market operation.
  • And an educator sees consumer education as development of skills and knowledge that assist consumers to play their role effectively in the market place.

Hence, it is important for us to recognize the people involved and understand the meaning of consumer education according to their given perspectives.


The Consumer Education covers the following areas


Health, Nutrition, food-borne diseases and food- adulteration, Product hazards like hazards due to storage and consumption of a particular product,


Product labeling – pasting labels on the packaging of products regarding their composition status, weight, ecological impacts, purity standards, colour, preservatives used, date of manufacture and expiry, address of producer/ manufacturer, matters pertaining to registration, trademarks, marks of standards etc.


Protective Laws – Laws framed by the government to protect rights of consumers and seeking redressal, how and whom to approach for redressal etc.


Information regarding- weight, measure, packaging, price and quality Educating certain Seals and marks of Standards while buying commodities -ISI marks, HALLMARK,FPO Mark,AGMARK, ECO MARK 1991(Environmentally safe products),MFPO(Meat Food Product Order) and Red colour symbol(Non vegetarian food package).


Why do we need Consumer Education?


We need consumer education to build our knowledge, skills, aptitudes, values and capacity to play the role of a responsible consumer. There are five important aspects to consumer education:


Informed Choice


Consumer education must be functional. Learn to shop wisely, distinguish between needs and wants, and understand the alternatives of conserving and saving rather than buying and consuming.


Value Systems


Consumer education must include the development of a Value System. We must learn how to share and care.We can use our power as consumers to promote value for money, value to people, value to the environment, value to democracy and value to justice.


Recognition of Responsibilities and Rights


It is important to articulate and understand both our responsibilities as well as our rights as consumers.


Wise Decision making


To make careful and wise decision we need information to make informed choices. Decision is both individual concerns of the consumer and the shared concerns of society at large,


Catalyst for Action


Consumer education must catalyse action. We must be aware of the available avenues of consumer complaint and redress and learn to use them for our benefit.


How can Consumer Education help us?


Consumer education motivates consumers to participate proactively in the decision making process especially those that affect their day-to-day lives. Consumer education is “living and sharing3”.. Consumer education must awaken the consumer eye, inculcate the responsibilities of consumers, ensure constant vigilance of consumer rights and develop a shared value system.


Opening the Consumer Eye


Consumer education should help to open the “consumer eye” of the consumers. The “consumer eye” concept means that an informed consumer looks at a product criticallyand analytically, first from own point of view as an individual consumer, then with the interest of the community at large in mind.


The consumer who has had his “consumer eye” opened, analyses product on several level, like health, economics, product safety, legal and environment considerations, and social costs.


Shared Value System


Consumer education is about “living and sharing3”. Consumer education should assist the development of a strong consumer movement. The five pillars of the consumer movement which consumer education should help to imbibe as part of the Shared Value System are4:

  1. Caring people: The consumer movement is people who care about others and about themselves. It’s about value for money of goods. But more importantly. it’s about value for people.
  2. Protecting the earth: Consumers must be conservers, protecting and preserving the earth. We must be aware of the consequences of our actions so that the earth’s resources are not wasted by the few at the expense of the many.
  3. Knowing your Rights: Human rights are central to the consumer movement, especially the right of people to have their basic needs met.
  4. Fighting for justice: Political and economic systems often discriminate against the powerless. Consumers can help to build fair, rational and just societies.
  5. Discovering your power: Acting together ordinary people can make a difference. Consumers can use their collective power to protect their interest and to fight those forces that threaten them.

The right of every Indian citizen to have education on matters regarding consumer protection as well as about her/his right is regarded as the last right provided by the Consumer Protection Act 1986. The right makes sure that the consumers in the country have informational programs and materials which are easily accessible and would enable them to make purchasing decisions which are better than before. Consumer education might refer to formal education through college and school curriculums as well as consumer awareness campaigns being run by non- governmental and governmental agencies both. Consumer NGOs, having little endorsement from the government of India, basically undertake the task of ensuring the consumer right throughout the country. India is found to be 20 years away from giving this right that gives power to the common consumer.




The former President of the USA, Mr.JohnF.Kennedy, defined the basic consumer right-“As the Right to Safety, The Right to be informed, the Right to choose and the Right to be heard”




  1. Right to safety-A consumer has a right to protect health and safety from the goods and services he buys.
  2. Right to be informed- A consumer has a right to be informed of the quality, price, ingredients of the products, purity, quantity and other relevant facts relating to the product, he purchases.
  3. Right to choose-Every commodity and service should be available at a reasonable price. This is possible only when there is competition which can regulate the price at a reasonable level. When there is no competition in the market the Government regulations should control the price level so that the high quality product reaches the consumers.A consumer has a right to choose the best quality product at fair price.
  4. Right to be heard-The right to be heard and assured that consumer interests will receive due consideration at appropriate forums.
  5. Right against exploitation- A consumer has a right against exploitation by unfair trade practices including fraudulent and misleading advertisements.
  6. Right to protection-A consumer has a right to protect and enhance the quality of his life.
  7. Right to seek redress- A consumer has a right for the redressal of his grievances, if any.
  8. Right to receive after-sale service- A consumer has a right for service after sale and for warranties and guarantees.
  9. Right to fulfill basic requirements- The essential commodities for the survival of human beings like food, clothing, housing, health, education etc., have to be fulfilled by providingappropriate facilities. There should be no exploitation of consumers on essential commodities.
  10. Rightto be educated-Consumer awareness and education should be createdby means of meetings,lectures,discussions, advertisements and articles.



The responsibilities of a consumer are

  1. Seeking appropriate information-Consumer should be alert in seeking information about the product before consuming.
  2. Consumer awareness- The consumer should be aware of the products quality, price, etc.,
  3. Selecting the right product-After gathering ample information about the product, the consumer should make a comparative analysis about the product.
  4. Voicing legitimate complaints-In order to safeguard against the health hazards caused by consuming doubtful products, it is the responsibility of the consumer to file a complaint against the manufacturer.
  5. Encourage wise manufactures or shopkeepers- Sometimes shopkeepers and manufactures resort to various corrupt practices. Such retailers should be identifies and exposed to the public. The consumers should unite and cooperate with each other in the wake of such malpractices.
  6. Establish a consumer cooperative society or Association-The consumer society should encourage consumers to become its members and take active part in consumer related activities.

There should be more organizations like the consumer Guidance Society of India to fight for the cause of consumers.


Consumers can help themselves

  1. Know what you want-Effective shopping begins at home with preliminary decisions as to what should be purchased and when. A shopping list should be prepared.
  2. Intelligent buying-Gather preliminary information about the product that the customer is purchasing for the first time.
  3. Learn to deal with the businessman- Customers should always aware and safe guard against tactics of salesmen.
  4. Learn to use what you have-Furniture and other similar commodities can be put for various uses to get maximum satisfaction.
  5. Getting right information- vague information regarding the products does not help the consumers in making proper decision. In such cases, the consumer must insist on getting required information from the manufacture, dealers or retailers.


Guidelines for wise purchase


Homemakers can observe the following few guidelines while purchasing

  1. Planning to buy- Planning their purchase
  2. Right quality-The item to be purchased should be judged according to the desired quality in relation to its use.
  3. Right quantity-Consumers should make their purchases according to the needs and duration of use.
  4. Right time-Certain goods are subject to seasonal variations. They are cheap and quality wise good at a certain time and expensive at other time. Purchase ingredients at their seasonal time.
  5. Right price- One should make comparison of prices of the similar goods in the market and select the products at the right price assuring the quality is maintained.
  6. Right vendor-consumers should identify reliable vendors who would supply quality products at the right time within reasonable costs.




Consumer cooperatives are organized, owned and managed by the consumers themselves.Their main aimsare to eliminate the middleman and provide commodities at lower prices.


A consumer cooperative exists to deliver goods or services rather than to maximize profit from selling those goods or services.


They purchase the commodities directly from the manufactures and whole sale dealers so they are able to give the commodities at nominal prices with no profit motive. They generally sell their products for cash.


It is easy to form consumer cooperatives. Any ten members can form an organization by themselves and it should be registered.


The cooperative society is democratically managed by the management committee elected members.


Consumer cooperative is normally located in the convenient place of their locality. Other common types of consumer cooperatives include grocery stores, energy-buying cooperatives, schools, health care cooperatives, insurance cooperatives, and housing cooperatives.


The members are working normally on an honorary basis so there is lack of motivation to develop the organization according to the changes in the society.


Sometimes the cooperative societies are not successful they often face financial problems as they have only limited members and the members are also not trained entrepreneurs.


The major difference between consumers’ cooperatives and other forms of business is that the purpose of a consumers’ cooperative association is to provide quality goods and services at the lowest cost to the consumer/owners rather than to sell goods and services at the highest price to gain profits.




To gain maximum satisfaction from the consumption of the right product it is important to educate the consumer. The consumer should know his own needs and requirements. Consumers should aware of their rights and responsibilities. Consumer cooperatives are organized, owned and managed by the consumers themselves. Their main aims are to eliminate the middleman and provide commodities at lower prices.





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