Classification and Consumer Rights
Consumer goods are products which are purchased for personal consumption. Consumer goods are classified into three areas: Convenience Goods, Shopping Goods and Speciality Goods. Purchases made by consumers are often controlled by legislation designed to protect consumers. In this article we cover consumer goods classifications and the Consumer Rights Act which came into force in the United Kingdom on the 1st of October 2015.
The diagram below shows the three categories consumer goods are classified into
Convenience products are inexpensive frequent purchases, there is little effort needed to purchase them. Examples include fast food, toiletries and confectionery products. Convenience products are split into staples, such as milk, eggs and emergency products which are purchased when the need arises e.g. Umbrellas.
Shopping goods are products that consumers do not buy as frequently as convenience goods. They usually cost more than convenience goods and consumers expect to have them for longer, so they will do some research prior to purchase. The research will include comparing product features and price. Examples of shopping goods include white goods (such as fridge/freezers and washing machines), clothing and furniture.
Speciality Goods and Services
Speciality goods are products with unique features or branding. Consumers do not compare them with other products as the goods have features unique to them. Instead they will spend time searching for the retailer selling the product they want. Consumers are often prepared to travel to purchase their product and pay a premium. Speciality goods include designer clothes, luxury cars, antiques. Professional services provided by a person known for the effectiveness and quality of their work can also come under this category. For example Lawyers and Accountants provide speciality services.
In the UK consumers purchasing items are protected by the Consumer Rights Act which came into force on the 1st of October 2015; Purchases made prior to this date are controlled by the Sale Of Goods Act 1979 (for goods) and the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 (for services). The Consumer Rights Act protects goods, services and digital content bought by consumers. It does not provides protection rights for purchases undertaken in the course of business.
Goods protected by the Consumer Rights Act must be of satisfactory quality, as described by the seller, fit for purpose and have to last for a reasonable length of time. Consumers are entitled to reject faulty goods and request a full refund within 30 days of purchase. After this time period consumers will need to negotiate a resolution, e.g. repair, replacement or (bearing in mind the length of time that the item has been used) a partial refund.
Services protected by the Consumer Rights Act should be carried out with reasonable care and skill, within a reasonable time and at a reasonable price. To assess what is meant by reasonable the "reasonable man" test will be applied i.e. Considering the circumstances what would a reasonable man on the street deem to be reasonable?.
The 30 day rejection rule doesn't apply to digital content, instead consumers can request a repair, replacement, (they may also be able to negotiate a partial refund).
It is important for marketers to know what classification their products come under, as the classification determines how consumers behave when they are purchasing their product. Firms also need to be aware of the rights granted to consumers in the countries that they trade in. In some cases such as the UK all consumer purchases are protected regardless of where the seller is located.