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Consumer policy research

We are now all consumers acting in a number of different markets, but too often the way these markets are set up does not encourage us make good purchasing decisions. This means we often spend more than we should on products and services, accept shoddy goods and don’t even get redress when we do complain.  

While the costs of these problems amount to tens of billions of pounds every single year, they are not given close to the same prominence in debate as taxes, benefits or wages.  Our research highlights the importance of consumer policy and looks at the root causes of why consumers so often struggle to get a good deal.

A big problem is that too many consumer policies are predicated on unrealistic assumptions about how people really behave.  This could be the idea that more information will lead to better decisions, or the idea that people have the time to make complex calculations about which products are best for them.  We see firms exploit this in order to encourage people to make poor decisions. Rather than just expecting consumers to change, we need to use insights from behavioural economics to design markets that work for real people.

Find out more about what our Consumer and Public Services policy team is working on.