On behalf of the European Commission and in collaboration with GfK and Time.lex, CentERdata has conducted consumer research to support the fitness check of EU directives with respect to consumer protection and marketing. Fitness checks are comprehensive policy evaluations assessing the effectiveness, efficiency, coherence, relevance and EU-added value of the policy.
To support the evaluation of the Price Indication Directive (PID) and the Consumer Sales and Guarantee Directive (CSD), CentERdata has developed several online experiments, which have been carried out in 8 European countries among over 10.000 consumers.
Price Indication Directive
Under the Price Indication Directive, sellers are required to indicate selling prices as well as unit prices of the products they offer (e.g. laundry detergents, cereals, meat products), in order to facilitate price comparisons for consumers. To gain insight into the relevance and effectiveness of this information requirement, we investigated in an online experiment whether consumers use unit price information when making choices among product alternatives (see Figure 1).
Figure 1. Example product assortment with unit prices
The results revealed that consumers use unit price information in their product choices: the group that received information on the price per unit chose products with a lower unit price, on average, as compared to the group that did not receive this information. This effect was particularly present when smaller packages had the lowest price per unit. In that case, it was smart to buy multiple smaller packages rather than a single larger one, which consumers probably did not expect.
Consumer Sales and Guarantee Directive
In the context of the evaluation of the Consumer Sales and Guarantee Directive (CSD), we examined whether information on the durability and reparability of products – information that sellers are not obliged to provide to consumers at this moment – can help consumers to buy more sustainable product alternatives.
In an online experiment, consumers were presented with product assortments (of washing machines, televisions, and smartphones) and were asked to indicate which product they would prefer. They received a large amount of product information, including information on the minimum lifetime of the products (durability) or information on the availability or costs of spare parts (reparability), or both. A control group did not receive durability or reparability information.
The results reveal that providing durability and reparability information promotes more sustainable product choices. However, consumers seem to value information on the minimum lifetime of products more than information on reparability. Also the type of information matters: consumers were more likely to choose a product that was relatively easy to repair when they received information on the availability of spare parts than when they received information on the costs of these spare parts.