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Consumer Education

Difficulties in selling Consumer Education

Consumer Education is, very often, not an area of education which is sought willingly: most of the time only people who have consumer problems are interested. But, as has been argued in the section Benefits of Consumer Education, it is important for consumers, for society and for business and trade, that more and more individuals are provided with Consumer Education. Teachers and instructors within Consumer Education can come from different professional backgrounds and Consumer Education need not necessarily be their main field of interest. It is important that they also benefit personally, if they involve themselves in Consumer Education activities. Education vs. information

Individuals are sometimes happy to take information (e.g. leaflets from a stand during a fair), rather than ask for education. Education requires active participation, while information is like consumption it does not require intellectual or emotional participation or consideration of different responsibilities as consumers. For this reason it is important that, when planning Consumer Education programmes, educators include training in the processes of orientation or reflection, planning and decision making and evaluation. Such processes should be integral to Consumer Education. Conflicts of interest Those who teach Consumer Education have to be aware of the different types of conflicts of interest that may emerge among their learners and within the learning environment. Sharpening this awareness helps them to react and cope appropriately.

- Nutrition: the decision of whether to cook with

convenience foods or with fresh, minimally processed ingredients often depends on time and sometimes also on ideas regarding established gender roles. To find an adequate solution we need to be aware of individual priorities and empty the mind of preconceived values. Also, the decision for or against organic food is often based on financial resources and not on the willingness to choose these products

Money management: this often involves conflicts of a psychological nature. People are often not sufficiently aware of their needs and do not know which factors can and do exert an influence on them. Many learners are not able to critically asses their attitudes towards consumption, or their own consumption patterns/habits Social environment: learners may not always consider how their consumption activities affect and are affected by the social environment. The pressure exerted by peer groups, friends, neighbours is often much stronger than the learners are ready to admit. As a consequence, specific attention needs to be paid to ways in which to assert oneself in social settings. Psychological ambivalences: individual psychological needs often clash with

either an abundant or a lack of availability of products and/or services. Even when a person has the knowledge to make intelligent product choices and really wishes to act in a sustainable way, the question of how to carry this out with available resources (time, transport, funds etc.) has to be pondered. Actual well being and long term perspectives of health: from experiences regarding primary preventive health care it emerges that preventive measures in isolation seem to be limited in their success. They do not really embrace the whole person, but, at best, inform of a specific problem. The step of individualising the problem is often not taken. Research also shows that children are not interested in adolescent health as long as they currently feel well. Anticipating possible future consequences of the present lifestyle is avoided even among adults, because it can plunge them into inner conflicts. Ideals of beauty and health: socially convened ideals of beauty define lifestyles to a certain extent and this can have detrimental outcomes. As in other areas, consumers of all ages often refuse to link these ideals to health; thus,risk behaviours abound (e.g. obsessive slimming and fitness regimens, misuse of diet products, overuse of cosmetic interventions) Consumers responsibility and health care: Encouragement of accepting own responsibility with regard to consumption is rather new. Consumers have long have been pampered by a social health system which generously ignored all impacts resulting from our lifestyles and bore the consequences. The change of paradigm from a protected consumer to an informed consumer is much further ahead politically than it is in the attitudes of consumers.

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