The proliferation of electronic consumer goods has certainly made today’s customers much more tech-savvy than their counterparts of 20-30 years ago.
The younger generations, who have never lived in a world without computers, mobile phones or smart appliances, are usually specific about the type of device and the brand they want. They seldom feel challenged by new technologies, and know intuitively how to use them.
Those born before the digital era may still be half-way up the learning curve and, when confronted with the multiplicity of devices and brands on the market, may take more time to choose the most user-friendly and suitable ones.
In both cases, the selection will be made according to criteria such as brand, size, price or overall performance. Add in energy efficiency and this may represent the sum of their concerns prior to the acquisition of a new piece of equipment.
This is all very well, but, more often than not, what appeals to consumers in the first place is not actually the most important thing. Do they care about all the parts involved in manufacturing the goods they buy? Cords, cables, batteries, to name but a few? They probably don’t.
Why is this? Because they place their trust in the manufacturers and suppliers of the goods they purchase. They take it for granted that the products they acquire are safe and reliable.
Is this blind faith justified? In most cases, the answer is yes. Unless they opt to buy from disreputable vendors offering sub-standard goods that often carry the additional burden of being counterfeit, they have every reason to place their confidence in their chosen manufacturers and brands.
To be worthy of the trust put in them by consumers, manufacturers have to prove the safety, reliability and high quality of their products. How do they do that?
While they can perform their own in-house tests, or can have the tests carried out by an organization that has an interest in the product – a major reseller for example – there are innumerable benefits in having their products tested and certified by a third-party, a body that is totally independent of both seller and purchaser.
Safety on a global scale
The leader in third-party conformity assessment for consumer goods is the IECEE, the IEC System of Conformity Assessment Schemes for Electrotechnical Equipment and Components. IECEE certification, based on the principle of mutual recognition (reciprocal acceptance) by its members of test results for obtaining certification or approval at national level, is essential in facilitating international trade and allowing access to the marketplace for vendors, retailers or buyers. It eliminates unnecessary duplicate testing and reduces the costs related to the certification process.
Since 1985, the IECEE has positioned itself as the global testing and certification system for electrotechnical equipment, enabling the issuance of certificates that are recognized worldwide. The system is still developing new programmes to provide manufacturers and consumers alike with the highest possible levels of safety, performance and reliability.
Returning to the issue of trust, IECEE is foremost in providing confidence in the safety, reliability, durability and performance of any item of consumer goods and provokes a "chain reaction" that starts with the manufacturer and leads on to the wholesaler, the retailer and finally to the consumer. IECEE is the trust enabler, whether that is implicit or explicit.