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What Is Consumer Advocacy?

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  • Written By: Jacob Queen
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 30 March 2014
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Consumer advocacy can be simply defined as the act of advocating on behalf of people who buy products in the society. Sometimes this advocacy can take the form of legal measures, and at other times, consumer advocates may simply inform people about problems with companies or products. Consumer advocacy focuses on various corporate abuses that might endanger or cheat consumers, such as poisonous products or defective items. They also often fight against perceived corporate unfairness, arguing against tactics like price fixing or trying to disable monopolies.

In previous eras, the idea of consumer advocacy was generally less prevalent. Companies were often able to operate without much oversight and, in many cases, the consumer didn’t have much say other than his spending choices. Over time, people eventually started speaking out against some of these practices and caused many laws to be passed. Some countries eventually implemented watchdog agencies that protect consumers and passed laws that required companies to operate in a way that gave more leverage to the consumers and their needs.

People engaged in consumer advocacy often use a lot of different tactics to achieve their ends. For example, they might rely on lawsuits that force companies to take dangerous products off the market, or they might ask other consumers to organize a boycott against a company as a way to leverage certain concessions or punish bad corporate behavior. They also frequently lobby legislative bodies in different countries for the passage of laws that give consumers more rights.

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Examples of consumer advocacy in action include things like regulation to make cars safer or laws that remove dangerous substances like lead from products. There have also been cases where consumer advocates have fought for greater competition between companies or price controls to keep consumers from being gouged unfairly. The Internet has allowed more people to become involved in consumer advocacy, and simple things like product reviews on websites can even be seen as a type of advocacy in many ways.

Some people on the corporate side of the equation feel that consumer advocacy groups haven’t always had a positive impact. For example, many companies claim that consumer advocates have driven up prices by forcing an increase in regulation. They also sometimes point out cases where consumer advocates fought against things with unfounded attacks and may have cost companies money in legal fees and public relations unnecessarily. Those involved in consumer advocacy generally disagree with all these arguments, and they tend to believe strongly that the reforms they fought for were necessary and have been helpful to humanity overall.

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