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Consumer Law: Shifting power from businesses to consumers
As of October 1, 2015 new consumer protection measures came into force in the UK. Under the Consumer Rights Act, customers are now entitled to a full refund on faulty goods for up to 30 days after the purchase. This area was previously rather sketchy, with consumers only being entitled to refunds for a ‘reasonable time’. A further measure has been the introduction of new protection for those purchasing digital content, allowing for a replacement on downloads that do not work. What’s more, if a digital download infects a user’s computer with a virus, the provider may face compensation costs.
The introduction of these measures, amongst others, further cements the powerful position of the consumer in the retail market. As mentioned in the MarketLine case study Changing consumer behavior in the UK: The rise of the smart consumer, changes in consumer law over the years have shifted power progressively away from businesses and increasingly in favor of consumers. The increasing shift in emphasis towards the rights of consumers has led to a growing confidence among shoppers that they can challenge businesses and bring about change. A survey carried out by Consumer Focus in 2010 found that 50% of people surveyed believe that there has been in an increase in the power of consumers to influence business standards, with only 17% disagreeing. Three quarters of the survey sample stated that they now make an increased effort to obtain the best deal.
The empowerment of consumers in the retail market has created a challenge for retailers and has led to changes in the development of strategies and processes. MarketLine’s case study Retailer response to changes in consumer behavior in the UK: Remaining relevant to the smart consumer analyzes the ways in which retailers have gone about this. In particular, there has been an increased emphasis on getting to know what consumers want and what motivates them to spend money. The strategy has had to become increasingly adaptive, with any changes in trends and behavior being quickly responded to. As such, the consumer perspective is increasingly being incorporated into the way in which retailers choose stock, how they display products, and how they market them. What’s more, the consumer perspective has had to be carefully considered and incorporated when it comes to the way in which businesses are run.
As an increasing number of measures are put in place to protect and empower consumers, retailers are being forced to become increasingly consumer-centric in their approach. A failure to adapt to the attitudes and demands of consumers can lead to the failure of a company.