The consumer information deficit: Assessment and policy implications

Research paper by Klaus G. Grunert

Indexed on: 01 Sep '84Published on: 01 Sep '84Published in: Journal of Consumer Policy


This paper reports about a research project financially supported by the Federal Ministry for Research and Technology of the FRG as part of the work of a consortium of consumer research teams from several universities. Using the problem of purchasing an automobile as an example, consumer information need and information supply are analyzed in order to delineate the consumer information deficit. Information need is defined as information suitable for reducing risks of purchase perceived by consumers which were ascertained in two surveys. Information supply was analysed by a content analysis of sales brochures, advertisements, and automotive magazines, as well as a study of the information content of sales talks. It turns out that the information supply is unsatisfactory with regard to the information need.Several studies of attempts to reduce the information deficit are also reported. A lab study indicates that required improvements of the information content of sales brochures may help consumers to make better purchase decisions. A videotex information system, which was also investigated, had no influence on purchase decisions, but was still considered useful by consumers.