Our Consumer Protection and Empowerment Index: A unique tool to guide marketplace change

Consumer protection and empowerment is critical – to make the markets work for trade, businesses, governments and consumers. When effective protections are in place, consumers have confidence in the market. Coupled with fair competition, this results in more innovation and more choice for consumers.

Despite the rise of e-commerce catalysing our global marketplace there is still no global measure on the level of consumer protection and empowerment across countries. Existing consumer indices are carried out at either national or regional level and they are frequently conducted by companies instead of independent entities. Such a tool is vital for national and international leaders. First, it is needed to give national leaders a collective view of consumer protection across diverse sectors. Second, it provides global decision-makers with a comparator of priority countries and pressing concerns. When shown upfront both aspects stimulate change.

From 2020 - 2021 we produced a pilot Index to fill this knowledge gap. We worked closely with our Members and experts to build our Consumer Protection and Empowerment Index to help shine a light on priority areas, guide consumer advocates on where we need to focus and to demand better from decision-makers.

What does it measure? 

The Index assesses how countries protect and empower consumers through policies, established networks and institutions and other measures. The Index defines consumer protection by the actions, institutions and legislation that safeguard consumers before, during and after their transactions in the marketplace. Consumer empowerment is defined as a state for consumers to practice choice and to demonstrate their needs, wants and demands in decision-making with other individuals or organisational bodies.

The Index is built on five pillars, formed from 14 indicators. It was compiled from 100 data measures – 61 quantitative measures, (taken from sources including the World Bank and OECD) and 39 from expert assessment data (taken from insights from 122 multisectoral experts). Eighty countries are covered by the Index across all continents and including a range of economies. Countries with robust data sets in place were chosen to inform reliable results.

What does it tell us? 

  1.  The average global score for the Index is 53/100; there is still substantial room for improvement across all areas of consumer protection and empowerment.
  2. On average, countries performed “best” in the Consumer Knowledge and Information pillar, with a global average score of 61/100; efforts have been made to ensure consumers have adequate information however, such information does not translate into market skills, particularly in the digital sector.
  3. Consumer protection provisions and mechanisms for vulnerable consumers are especially low.
  4. Whilst minority countries (high-income) drive international sustainability discussions and standard setting, majority countries (middle and low-income) take more action related to national sustainable consumption.
  5. The digital divide in consumer protection is stark; rapid development in technology and innovation appears to have left many consumers behind, particularly in majority countries and Sub-Saharan Africa.

These and other findings provide identifiable areas to drive change in the marketplace. However, we also found that top performers nationally do not follow the same ranking pattern as one another, emphasising that despite some commonalities national marketplace protections vary hugely – often per region and per country.   

How has the tool been used so far? 

As Members and some of the most influential actors came together for World Consumer Rights Day 2022 to promote a fair future in digital finance, we released our findings exclusively with Members, to explore how it can be used. 

Members are able to use the Index to inform their organisational strategic direction and inspire discussions and decisions at the global, regional, and national level between other consumer associations and decision makers.

They are given three key tools. The first is access to an Index Insights Report - a digestible overview of select global findings. The second is an Index Analyser – to explore data via a ranking table, interactive world map and individual country profiles. The third is our Index Data Bank – providing Members with an understanding of our methodology used and individual data measures.

We at Consumers International have also been using the Index to point to consumer protection gaps across G20 countries, in our consultative role to the United Nations, during closed and public events and discussion at global fora such as the Conference of Parties and the World Economic Forum annual meeting.

What's next? 

With our core findings in mind, we will build more measures into our next phase of development for the Index. As for its initial development, this will include wide consultation with consumer advocates, and experts from industry, government and other sectors.

We will build new data measures which are currently not measured at a global level but are key for effective consumer protection and expand country coverage. Given the complex nature of consumer protection policies, we see our Index as an evolving tool relevant to the future marketplace.

If you have any questions about the index or would like to explore how you can be involved in our next stage, please contact impact@consint.org.



Members of Consumers International have exclusive access to the pilot Consumer Protection and Empowerment Index Insight Report and Analyser. Please email media@consint.org for login details and use this access page here.