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Consumers and Standards

  1. Outreach
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  3. Consumers & Standards

How Standards Impact Consumers

Voluntary standards make our everyday lives safer, easier, and more enjoyable. Many standards protect human health, safety, and the environment. Others help to ensure that different products work compatibly together. For instance, standards for drinking water protect consumer health while standards for toys help keep children safe.

The U.S. standardization system is voluntary, private-sector-led, and market-driven. Since its formation in 1918 ANSI has served as the coordinator of this system, providing a neutral forum for the development of policies on standards issues and bringing all the relevant stakeholders together to address real-world problems through consensus-based standards. By bringing these diverse interests together and leveraging shared expertise, the voluntary consensus approach enables a strong, flexible, effective, and responsive standardization system.

Importance of Consumer Participation in Standards Activities

Consumers provide critical, first-hand perspectives on how products will be perceived and used in the marketplace. The consideration of these insights improves standards outcomes for all end users, while helping to drive innovation, strengthen industry, and fuel our nation’s economy.

Here’s an example most people can relate to: Consumers played an essential role in the development of the consumer safety performance specification for shopping carts (ASTM F2372-15, Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Shopping Carts). Consumer representatives voiced concern about needs for better labeling and increased education for consumers. Their input helped shape a new label and additional safety requirements for shopping carts that were incorporated into the standard. ASTM F2372-15 is still active and covers performance requirements, test methods, and labeling requirements for shopping carts and restraint systems.

Two rows of red and silver shopping carts pushed together in a supermarket.

Who Are Consumers?

A consumer or consumer representative is or represents:

  • An individual member of the general public purchasing or using property, products, or services for private purpose
  • Consumer studies and other related departments at universities
  • Consumer advocacy organizations active in consumer protection
  • Nonprofit public-interest organizations

What Is a Consumer Organization?

A consumer organization is an entity that is active in consumer affairs. It may be an independent, nonprofit organization that:

  • Specializes in a specific consumer issue(s) such as law or consumer protection
  • Advocates the interest of consumers before other organizations and governments
  • Is not involved in the advancement of commercial interests, though it may engage in activities related to the provision of consumer education
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