As a cross-market organisation, with competition, markets and consumer powers, it is essential that the CMA puts consumers at the heart of everything it does. We want to ensure that all of our work, using all of the tools available to us, delivers real and demonstrable impact for consumers. This includes how we prioritise our projects and how we craft remedies that will resonate with, and benefit, consumers.
In our Annual Plan, we made a commitment to improve our understanding of consumer issues and concerns, by engaging with consumers in a range of ways. This included establishing a network of consumer experts, representatives and other ‘consumer minded’ stakeholders who can help us to understand the consumer experience.
Addressing the above commitment has been a priority in the CMA’s first few months. We have spoken to a wide range of organisations and individuals, and learnt about the different ways in which they engage with consumers. We are grateful for the time they have spent to share their experiences with us.
Following these discussions, we have developed a set of actions to ensure a consistent consumer focus across the CMA’s portfolio of work.
Looking through the eyes of the consumer
We are developing our internal processes and governance arrangements to ensure we maintain a consistent focus on consumers through the complete lifecycle of all our projects. If we can understand the impact of our work on consumers even better from the outset, we can be clearer about the outcomes and the remedies that we need to put in place.
Building a consumer network
We will seek to build relationships across a wide group of organisations who are engaged with consumers and expert in the issues that matter to them. We will work with them to enhance how we gather intelligence on emerging consumer issues, test our proposed remedies and outcomes, and communicate our work to consumers. We have already established some new relationships, and are building on existing ones in our recent work on problem debt, and on our strategic assessment looking at risks to consumers, the efficient functioning of markets and their contribution to economic growth.
Enhancing our digital capabilities
We are developing our digital engagement capability, and will explore further how this could enhance our ability to gather intelligence on emerging consumer issues, test proposed remedies and outcomes, and communicate with consumers.
We will instigate discussion and debate on consumer issues in the competition and consumer landscape with experts, academics and business representatives. Areas for discussion could include behavioural economics, how consumers respond to debt problems, and what consumer vulnerability means in particular markets.
If you would like to know more about what we are doing or would like to get involved, please contact Mike Coates.