An Overview of Academic Consumer Interest Research in Canada

Consumer Trends Update - Spring 2013

This Consumer Trends Update provides an overview of the status of academic consumer interest research (CIR), from a Canadian perspective. It first presents the challenges inherent to defining CIR and discusses the field's linkages to consumer policy-making. This is followed by some observations on the current state of academic CIR in Canada. Models of CIR-related academic networking activities are then presented as examples of how academic CIR can develop and contribute to policy-making. Such academic CIR contributions deserve further and sustained attention by all partners in the consumer policy community.

The Consumer Trends Update is published by the Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA), Industry Canada. It provides brief reports on research or policy developments related to themes explored in the 2005 Consumer Trends Report, which is available at: www.consumer.ic.gc.ca/trends.

Table of Contents

Introduction

This Update was developed as part of an ongoing project to better understand the state of consumer interest research (CIR) in Canada, and to address issues arising from that understanding. In 2005, the Office of Consumer Affairs of Industry Canada published a three-year study, The Consumer Trends Report (Industry Canada 2005). It provided an integrated overview of the challenges consumers are facing in the marketplace and their capacity to cope with those changes. In the course of conducting the analytical work for the Report, the department encountered significant difficulty in obtaining Canadian academic research in the consumer area. As noted in the Report:

Unlike in the U.S. or the U.K., there is no Canadian academic journal devoted to consumer research issues, so there are few opportunities to exchange or showcase the results of consumer research. Further, no academic research funding programs on consumer issues exist, and there are no institutes or think tanks devoted to the subject.

(Industry Canada 2005)

Industry Canada undertook further research into the question of academic CIR and engaged in discussions with key leaders in Canadian university-based CIR. This Update presents results from that survey work on the state of CIR in Canada.

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