Under the key priority area “Addressing specific consumer needs” of the New consumer agenda, special attention is given to consumers living in certain situations that can be particularly vulnerable and are in need of specific safeguards, for instance children, older people, people with disabilities or people living in remote areas.
The Agenda foresees the following: “The Commission aims to support, as of 2021, initiatives providing local advice to consumers, who for structural or personal reasons do not have access to support and information provided online or at central information offices.”
In this context, the Commission has published a scoping study aiming at:
(1) Mapping and identifying the current practices in the Member States on local advice to – especially vulnerable - consumers through scoping interviews, desk research, surveys, etc.;
(2) Comparative analysis: identification of the areas/groups of vulnerable consumers where the needs and demand for local consumer advice are not satisfied yet;
(3) Recommendations on how to deal with the above-mentioned uncovered needs and demand in a feasible manner;
(4) Identification of best practices ensuring a balanced geographical representation.
The study contains a mapping of practices from the Member States, and then identifies criteria that make consumer advice initiatives innovative and original in successfully reaching local consumers:
- Tailored approach to specific needs and problems encountered by the targeted consumer groups,
- Collaboration and partnerships with other local actors,
- Advice given at the relevant moment (place and time) in a proactive manner,
- Focus on online advice development, and
- Financial support needed to use experts and/or develop innovative formats.