2011–12 Project Summaries: Consumers Council of Canada

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Smartphones: Are They Helping Consumers be Smarter Consumers?

This research will examine the emerging trend among large retailers of providing product and purchase information through smartphone applications. Given that these applications are often used at the time of purchase, a time when consumers are more susceptible/vulnerable to incorrect or biased information, CCC intends to evaluate consumer information needs against a set group of retailer "apps". There may be an increased risk of consumer protection issues arising from this new practice, given the complexity of the information involved, the advanced technologies, privacy issues and the competitive environment in which the information is provided.

Expected outcome

The key questions that CCC will seek to answer are:

  • How well do these retailer "apps" work against their stated claims?
  • How well do these retailer "apps" work against a comprehensive evaluation grid of consumer needs for point of purchase decisions?
  • What are the consumer protection issues regarding the information made available through such "apps"?
  • What further point of sale information can reasonably and competitively be made available, and with what effort, by retailers?