Consumer Affairs Overview
How Standardization Helps Consumers
As consumers, our lives are made easier by standards.
We screw a light bulb into its socket. We flip a switch and, voilà, there is
We are traveling and in need of cash. We put a card into an ATM machine and out
We come to a stop at a red traffic light, because a red light means stop. When
the light changes to green, we proceed on, because green means go.
All of these everyday examples that we take for granted are made possible
because of standards and standardization.
What Are Standards?
Simply put, a standard is a documented agreement, established by a consensus of
subject matter experts and approved by a recognized body, that provides rules,
guidelines or characteristics to ensure that materials, products, processes and
services are fit for their purpose. Voluntary consensus standards developed by
industry in accordance with ANSI’s procedures for due process, openness and
consensus are often subsequently adopted by the government as part of the
How Consumers Help Standardization
Consumers are defined as those individuals who use goods or services to satisfy
their individual needs and desires, rather than to resell them or to produce
other goods or services with them. Products that take into account consumer
needs regarding design, packaging, and usage are more likely to be accepted
into the marketplace, and more likely to be adopted into regulation. Consumer
involvement in standardization not only promotes safer, healthier and more
environmentally sound products and services, it also increases consumer
confidence in the quality and reliability of products and services, and
provides consumers a greater selection of goods and services at lower costs.
Consumers have played an important role in raising awareness of issues for
consumers having special needs, for example, children, the elderly and the
disabled. Consumer representatives also have recommended entire new subject
areas for standardization. For example, standards for services, e-commerce
consumer protection guidelines, and international environmental and corporate
social responsibility standards are all subjects that were introduced by
One of ANSI’s primary missions is to further voluntary standards and conformity
assessment activities as a means of benefiting the public health, safety and
environment. Another is to assure that the interests of the public are
protected and represented in standards activities. Accordingly, ANSI has
established a Consumer Interest Forum to
facilitate the representation of consumer interests in the voluntary