Euroconsumers International Forum

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Euroconsumers: the digital era requires you to change your mindset

On November 12, 2019, the first Euroconsumer International Forum took place at the Claridge in Brussels to bridge the gap between consumers and businesses. The digital era has many opportunities for consumers as well as businesses — for example, easier and faster access to products and services. Besides, there are also challenges, such as data privacy and data security. Effectively handling digital opportunities and mitigating risks requires a change in mindset by consumers and businesses.

Luisa Crisigiovanni is the Secretary-General of Altroconsumo and a Fundraising Manager at Euroconsumers. She explains: “Euroconsumers is a network of five national consumer organizations that cooperate to empower consumers in their daily lives. We are a critical market player giving voice to more than 1.5 million people by promoting consumer information, defense of their rights, and personalized services in Belgium (Test-Aankoop/Test-Achats), Italy (Altroconsumo), Portugal (DECOProteste), Spain (OCU – Organisation of Consumers and Users), and Brazil (Proteste). We aim to build relationships with institutions, media, and companies to empower individual consumers and to develop fairer and more efficient markets.”

Three key takeaways

At the Euroconsumers International Forum, there were many panel discussions on how to bridge the gap between consumers and businesses in the digital era. For example: how can market players and consumer organizations work together; the benefits of technologies such as artificial intelligence, internet of things, machine learning and blockchain versus data privacy issues; and mobility trends in a digital age. Luisa: “I want the audience to take away three talking points from the Forum”:

Takeaway 1: Accelerate the pace to create guiding principles and a legal framework
Rapid technological changes have led to many new disruptive companies who often have incorporated a culture based on the premise: move fast, break things, and say sorry later. Besides, regulators and policymakers are lagging in understanding the fast-changing environment and being able to create guiding principles and a legal framework that creates a win-win-win situation for consumers, businesses, and governments. A solution for this is to establish stronger relationships between private- and public organizations.

Euroconsumers focuses on building relationships with institutions, media, and companies to empower individual consumers and to develop fairer and more efficient markets. – Luisa Crisigiovanni 

Takeaway 2: Establishing stronger relationships between public- and private organizations
Consumer insights are essential for consumer organizations as well as for companies like Amazon and Google. “We need to use this common interest to build strong partnerships to serve consumers better. How do we achieve that? By having a continuous dialogue between public- and private organizations to build trust and to make change happen through, e.g., sharing knowledge, best practices, and launching events and campaigns together.

It can start, for example, with being transparent to consumers about data privacy and data security. The ultimate goal is that businesses and consumers are aware and act according to a standard set of digital rights,” says Luisa.

Takeaway 3: Building consumer communities
In the online world, consumers rely much more on information and advice from their peers for buying products and services. They are connected via social media platforms such as Facebook and are not necessarily aware of or take advice from national or European consumer organizations. So, it is up to these organizations to create communities and platforms where consumers can share their experiences and exchange information to increase their awareness and to stimulate advocacy.

Changing the mindset of consumers, businesses, and governments to adapt to the opportunities and challenges of the digital age is a step-by-step process. Luisa: “Euroconsumers is a crucial market player that supports this digital transformation process.”

Do you want to contribute to the empowerment of individual consumers and the development of fairer and more efficient marketsContact Luisa Crisigiovanni – Secretary-General of Altroconsumo and Fundraising Manager at Euroconsumers.

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