Earlier this week, at an event bringing together stakeholders interested in Scottish Government’s Consumer Scotland proposals, I launched our latest Consumer Insight Report for Scotland 2019.
We’ve published similar reports in Scotland for several years, but this time we expanded the scope of the project to encompass our Consumer Insight data across all of the nations and regions of the UK.
This has resulted in the creation of twelve distinctive reports for each nation and region, outlining everything from the financial and social outlook of Scottish consumers, to satisfaction with the rail service and the experience of individual constituencies with digital connectivity.
My speech at Mackay Hannah’s ‘Consumer Scotland: Investigation is Coming’ centred on the important role that the creation of this body will have in proving Scottish Government’s commitment to advancing consumer interest within Scottish policy- making.
It is our strong belief that Consumer Scotland must embed a strong consumer duty in its operation and be fit to tackle issues ranging from unfair trading practices, to health risks posed by unsafe products.
The trends that arose from our Consumer Insight report for Scotland clearly compounded this belief, establishing defined areas of consumer concern and trust across vital industries and services.
Which areas are trusted?
When respondents were asked whether or not they trusted a broad range of industries to act in the best interest of consumers, it was the water industry that came out on top, with 69% of people in Scotland trusting this essential service, compared with just 8% of people who said that they trusted car dealers; a cynicism shared across the UK.
The level of trust in the water industry was higher in Scotland than in any other nation or region of the UK (the average of which was 59%), perhaps due to the fact that the Scottish water industry is publicly owned.
Another trust score in Scotland that deviated from the UK-wide trend was that around day-to-day banking services.
Across the UK, 45% of respondents felt that banking services worked in their best interests, compared with just 39% of people in Scotland; this was the lowest score across the UK. In my opinion, this reflects the growing problem that consumers have in accessing cash and other essential bank branch services, particularly in rural areas.
I believe that our Consumer Insight report for Scotland presents a clear picture of what Scottish consumers want and need from the organisations and bodies who provide their essential and discretionary goods and services.
If Consumer Scotland is to be a real force for improving the lives of ordinary people, it must take on board the concerns highlighted in this report – and make tackling them a top priority.
Do you agree with the areas of concern raised in the report? How do the results for Scotland compare to where you live in the UK? Keep an eye on our Consumer Insights site for the publication of the remaining nations and regions.