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Last edited 27 Nov 2020
A ‘consumer’ is the ultimate user of goods and services and the party who derives the benefit that is associated with them. However, a consumer is not necessarily the same thing as a customer: a parent buying toys may be a customer in a toyshop but the ultimate consumer is their child. So, consumers do not necessarily make buying decisions.
 Consumer needs
These are the needs that any consumer or group of consumers may be deemed or perceived to have, whether current, future or potential. Consumer needs are usually identified by marketing departments of companies and corporations, but also by organisations such as government agencies.
- Whether male or female
- Marital status (wife, mother husband, divorcee etc)
- Income bracket
- Buying habits
- Car owner or not
- Number of children in a household
- Hopes and aspirations
- Other interests
 Consumer groups
These are groups of consumers who have come together to raise concerns about specific products and services. Their aim is to focus on the nature and usage of a product and, if necessary, inform other consumers about any potential drawbacks or dangers arising from the product’s use. This can include warnings over safety, misleading adverts, harmful ingredients and environmental concerns. Consumer groups may also provide feedback to manufacturers.
 Consumer Prices Index (CPI)
The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) is a government tool which measures month-to-month changes in the cost of a representative 'basket' of goods and services bought by consumers within the UK. The items in the basket are reviewed and updated annually to ensure they are current and reflect consumer spending patterns. As the prices of the various items change over time, so does the total cost of the basket, which allows comparisons to be made in the movements of consumer price inflation. In the 2016 basket, there were around 700 representative consumer goods and services.
In the UK, the rights of consumers purchasing goods and services are protected by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. This is because consumers may be treated unfairly by some establishments or because goods may go wrong a very short time after purchase. Problems can include:
- Rogue traders.
- Faulty or counterfeit goods
- Issues with credit and store cards
- Poor service
- Contract terms
The Consumer Rights Act came into force on 1 October 2015. Clearer and easier to understand than its predecessor the Consumer Protection Act 1987, it aims to help consumers better understand how they should be treated by businesses.
The Act helps consumers:
- Better identify best deals
- Hold businesses to account for poor quality or service
- Select the business providing the best overall offer (rather than just the cheapest)
- Understand their rights on repair and replacement
- Identify unfair terms in a contract.
The UK government has helplines which aim to help consumers if they feel they have had a bad deal or wish to complain about a specific issue:
The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 are applicable to all contracts for the provision of goods from 13 June 2014. They apply to off-premises contracts, distance contracts and on-premises contracts, and may apply to contracts in the construction industry under certain circumstances.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Advice from CIAT about the cancellation of consumer contracts.
- Consumer contract.
- Consumer Contracts Regulations.
- Cooling off period.
- Identifying COVID-19 scams.
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