Consumer vulnerability across key markets in the European Union
The study examines the incidence of vulnerability across the EU28 and Iceland and Norway, and the factors explaining any observed vulnerability. The study uses a range of information sources (literature review, stakeholder interviews, consumer survey and consumer experiments in five countries) and focuses on three key sectors in the European Union. The key finding is that incidence of vulnerability is the highest when consumers face complex advertising or when consumers do not compare deals at all or have problems comparing deals because of market-related factors or personal factors. The analysis of potential drivers of vulnerability shows that market-related drivers are particularly important as these are consistently linked with many vulnerability indicators in the statistical analysis. Among the three sectors of particular interest, the incidence of vulnerability is markedly higher in the energy and finance sectors than in the online sector. The study concludes with a number of recommendations focusing on policies to address consumer vulnerability and on the methodologies to employ in future major studies of consumer vulnerability.