Consumer awareness, which refers to a buyer's knowledge of a particular product or company, allows the buyer to get the most from what he buys. Consumers know more about their choices when they have product information and benefit from knowing their rights, hearing about alerts and warnings and finding out about safety issues.
Consumers can benefit from information about products that comes from sources outside the company that makes them. Consumer-review websites, such as Consumer World, provide price and feature comparisons of products and information on shopping. Examples include a comparison of the dependability of different cars on the market or opinions about the best companies in a specific category.
Government agencies and consumer groups often begin consumer-awareness campaigns to help people understand new products in the marketplace. Examples of this include the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) giving consumers information on food product labels and the 2009 conversion from analog to digital television.
Consumer-rights awareness helps people know what they can expect from companies that supply them with products and services. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a website devoted to consumer information, and one of its aims is to “help you avoid ripoffs and exercise your consumer rights. For instance, the FTC helps you understand your rights in buying a car, financing a car, and any rights you would have if you defaulted on your loan.”
Consumer warnings are a part of consumer awareness. Knowing about fraud alerts, identity scams and deceptive practices by retailers can help protect consumers when making purchases. The FTC website “Deter, Detect, Defend” gives consumer resources that help them understand what identity fraud is as well as recognize it and know what to do about it.
Consumer awareness can increase safety and even save lives. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is a resource for information on safety of products, including recalls of equipment and safety warnings. The organization has recalled such items as girls' hooded sweatshirts with drawstrings because of a strangulation hazard and baby slings because of the risk of suffocation.