Definition of Consumer Product Safety Act in Marketing

This post describes and defines the various terms and rights of the consumer based on the Consumer Product Safety Act of 1972. This act also established the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission which has jurisdiction over thousands of products and requires warning labels and recalls when necessary. Consumers are guaranteed rights to include accurate labeling, safe packaging, and truth in marketing.

Defining Consumers

  • A consumer is a person, or group, who pays to consume the goods and/or services produced by a seller, such as a  company or organization.
  • Consumers acquire goods or services for direct use or ownership rather than for resale or use in production and manufacturing.
  • Any product, good, or service that is developed should have a target market in mind to be marketed and sold effectively.
  • Consumers are generally categorized as end users or a target demographic for a product, good, or service.
  • Markets are segmented for strategic targets, such as by marketing strategy, product characteristics, and characteristics of the buyer.
  • Marketers pay close attention to consumer behavior or how potential buyers act when purchasing goods or services for personal consumption.

Growth of Government Intervention

  • In 1890, the U.S. Congress enacted the Sherman Antitrust Act to restore competition and free enterprise by breaking up monopolies.
  • Prior to the mid 20th century, American consumers lacked many rights regarding their interaction with products and producers.
  • Since the 1930's many more laws and regulations have been enacted to protect workers and consumers.
  • For example, the government issues and enforces workplace safety and health codes.
  • Nearly every product sold in the United States is affected by some kind of government regulation: food manufacturers must tell exactly what is in a can or box or jar; no drug can be sold until it is thoroughly tested; automobiles must be built according to safety standards and must meet pollution standards; prices for goods must be clearly marked; and advertisers cannot mislead consumers.
  • By the early 1990s, Congress had created more than 100 federal regulatory agencies in fields ranging from trade to communications, from nuclear energy to product safety, and from medicines to employment opportunity.

The Consumer Product Safety Act (1972)

  • In 1972 the U.S. Congress enacted the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA), which established the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), an independent agency of the U.S. Federal Government.
  • The Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) defines consumer products as:
"any article, or component part thereof, produced or distributed (i) for sale to a consumer for use in or around a permanent or temporary household or residence, a school, in recreation, or otherwise, or (ii) for the personal use, consumption or enjoyment of a consumer in or around a permanent or temporary household or residence, a school, in recreation, or otherwise; but such term does not include – (A) any article which is not customarily produced or distributed for sale to, or use or consumption by, or enjoyment of, a consumer."

  • Consumer products also refer to products that many consider unnecessary, such as candy, luxury goods, and toys.
  • Note that Congress and President Theodore Roosevelt created the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1906 to regulate drugs and food to ensure consumer safety.

Basic Consumer Rights

  • The Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) gave the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) the authority to create safety standards and recall products that present unreasonable or substantial risks of injury or death to consumers.
  • The CPSC has jurisdiction over thousands of commercial products. It regulates and establishes performance standards, requires product testing and warning labels, demands immediate notification of defective products, and has the power to force product recalls if necessary.
  • The right to consumer education refers to the ability to acquire knowledge and skills to make informed, confident choices about goods and services, while being aware of basic consumer rights and responsibilities and how to act on them.

Occupational Safety and Health Act

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) is the primary federal law that governs occupational health and safety in the U.S. private sector and the federal government.
  • OSHA created the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission to review enforcement priorities, actions, and cases.
  • OSHA creates regulations that require employers to record every non-consumer chemical product used in the workplace.
  • OSHA prohibits employers from discharging, retaliating, or discriminating against any employee because the worker has exercised rights under the act.

Product Labeling

  • Packaging refers to the physical appearance of a product when a consumer sees it, labels are an informative component of packaging.
  • The package label carries information about the product.
  • The Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA) applies to the labels on many consumer products that identify the products, the company that manufactures it, and the net quantity of contents.
  • For example, labels must inform consumers of hidden contents, or "filling materials" inside bedding and furniture products.
  • Should labels include information about quality, safety, distinction, affordability, convenience, or aesthetic beauty?

Product Packaging

  • Product packaging needs to provide a certain amount of information to the consumer, depending on the type of product.
  • For example, it must include certain symbols, such as those that refer to product certifications, trademarks, and proof of purchase.
  • Many requirements and symbols exist to communicate aspects of consumer use and safety.

Problems with Packaging

  • Many consumers are concerned with packaging safety issues, especially when it comes to products marketed to children.
  • Packaging and labeling also produce a lot of excess waste that just gets thrown out once the consumer has purchased the product.
  • Note that the work that goes into producing the packaging and labeling is wasted once the consumer has purchased the product.

Social Responsibility and Welfare of Customers

  • Since the early 1900's there has been a concerted effort in the United States to implement consumer protection laws related to food, drugs, and cosmetics.
  • Consumerism emerged during the 1960s to increase consumer influence, power, and rights in dealing with corporate institutions.
  • Consumer interest groups represent consumers. Their work often focus on protecting consumers, such as issues of product safety, price concerns, and consumer notification.
  • For example, Consumer Reports is an American nonprofit organization dedicated to unbiased product testing, investigative journalism, consumer-oriented research, public education, and consumer advocacy. It is known for its rigorous product testing and offers side-by-side comparison of similar products. Consumer Reports also lobbies on issues such as telecommunications and mass media, health care, and product safety.
  • Many of the ethical issues related to consumer product safety concern the environment, labels, graphics, and public safety.
  • These ethical concerns, especially those related to consumer health and safety concerns, have led to practices that prevent or reduce the frequency of unethical behavior in companies.
  • Recent scientific data pointing to climate change, dwindling natural resources, and concerns over human rights, have prompted companies to recognize its societal role to act in ways that benefit society at large.
  • Ensuring that industrial factories and production sites create safe and reliable products is integral to the trustworthiness and ultimate survival of a brand.


Source: Boundless,
Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 License.

Last modified: Tuesday, January 14, 2020, 4:24 PM