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Understanding Vulnerable Consumers

  • 09 Pages
  • Published On: 05-12-2023
Pre and post dictatorship comparison: The experience of Malawi and Mali

Introduction: Definition of Vulnerable Consumer

A vulnerable consumer is anyone or individual whom due to his or her personal circumstances, most likely susceptible to detriment, especially when an organization is not handling them with the care, they deserve (Amine et al, 2019). There are some circumstances which are personal may lead to one being referred to vulnerable consumer. They include: when one is undergoing a mental or physical whether long- or short-term problem, generally health problems, maybe having little or zero comprehension of English and possessing poor fundamental skills, and being a victim of a certain addiction.

Financial Services and Day-to-Day Life

In our day-to-day life, financial services play a vital and appropriate responsibility. Besides, as consumers we are expected to partake a key role for our individual expenses and balancing our financial capability. A society that is experiencing unending financialised consumptions, vulnerable consumers are mostly exposed to risks especially when they are handling providers of financial services (Omstedt, 2020). Therefore, they have a high probability to suffer detriment than those who are living within an average limit. According to Kovács (2019), there is a young discipline referred to service marketing field whose first harbingers are distinct subfield within marketing between 1970s and 1980s. This paper evaluates some broad concepts like quality of the service offered, its design, shortcomings of services, and institution’s service culture. Besides, it will also make it broad to fathom the market adjustments, and the impacts of recognized quality of services of concerned bureaucratic results. They include consumer achievement, verbal talk with your consumers and loyalty.


Issues Affecting Consumer Vulnerability

According to Morse, head of the national Audit Office, there are renowned number of vulnerable consumers who are susceptible to adverse results and experiences emanating from services that can be regulated such as water, communication, and energy not limited to financial services (Feld, 2019). Most of these financial services affecting vulnerable consumers can be lack of access, disproportionately high bills. At times debt regulators have bettered understanding of vulnerability, which has made easier for researchers to work with other corporation as a way of improving support for vulnerable consumers. However, regulators and government have to work hand in hand in order to clarify their respective roles if the final back up for vulnerable consumers is likely to be valued money wise. In addition, the National Audit Office advices regulators in the energy, water sector, providers of financial services, and telecommunications department to give a shoulder to lean on concerning the unusual increments of vulnerable consumers (Decker, 2017). According to their study, National Audit Office (NAO), consumers usually spend an approximate of £136 billion yearly on energy, telecommunications, financial services related to retail and on water. Those who due to their current situations are likely to be susceptible to harm or disadvantage are referred to vulnerable consumers. It is a scenario where an individual is in a financial situation where he has to struggle to cater for basic needs and wants. An advice released by the Money Advice Service, indicated that in 2015 a proportion of about thirty-two per-cent of adults in UK are not able to clear an unexpected three hundred euros bill without cutting back on basic needs. In addition, it was a fifty per-cent increase to a population of unemployed group, individuals receiving benefits, and people living in social housing. The projected number of vulnerable consumers is expected to record a high number than usual. This is due to increased number of projected causes of vulnerable consumers especially the ageing population. For instance, the number of dementia victims is forecasted to rise from nine hundred thousand to two million by 2050. At times defining vulnerability is a hectic task because it normally depends on circumstances heavily. However, some groups seek substantially more assistance from organisations, which offer support or care than others, especially parents who are singles, the unemployed population, individuals who are experiencing debt difficulties or multiple disabilities, and any person having health issues such as mental problems.

Vulnerable population or consumers are facing adverse impacts, which cut across many services (O'Connor et al., 2019). For example, over an approximate of three million disabled people have faced difficulties whenever they want insurance services, they normally encounter resistance. Besides, if they happen to be offered such services, it comes along with extra charges because of their condition. The most disturbing issue that has become a prevalent issue for vulnerable consumers is on how to handle debts. Whereby a huge estimate of about eight million individuals is experiencing over-indebted with a usual projection of rise in household debt. Many households have had to use unauthorized moneylenders due to limited or lack of accessibility to legal credit. The challenges faced by vulnerable consumers has led to increase over reliance on public services like care and benefits. It is not easy to estimate the impact of this effect on the purse of public. According to findings released by the NAO, it is clearly seen that those who seek an assistance of regulated services problems are most likely to receive state back up especially social housing and benefits of unemployed. However, regulators through latest researches have bettered their comprehension of vulnerability in each department. Nevertheless, they have not yet quantified the effects of challenges and the dynamics on issues related to vulnerable consumer. They further stated that roles of regulators are not clearly stated. In addition, governments’ roles are not well defined. NAO claims that interventions done by regulators alone cannot alone be sufficient to protect all vulnerable consumer groupings (Keep, 2018). At times duties of regulators to protect vulnerable consumers are at times are conflicting with other guidelines designed to be advantageous to consumers. For instance, an intervention to shield huge differences in price between deals usually affects competition adversely, where many vulnerable groups are substantially less likely to change their preference to affordable deals. Regulators have always tried to recognize the reason to work in partnership with others, though the progress has faced many limitations (Rae et al, 2020). The role of the regulators network of the United Kingdom has brought together several regulators who are focusing on the affordability pressures. They utilize the company data to identify individuals living under vulnerable consumers’ curve. However, some firms, which are proactive, are bettering their back up to vulnerable consumers. Even though they are doing a commendable job, the progress has faced many limitations. Many universal services assist consumers who are experiencing vulnerability issues to have an access to services though they are not comprehensive (Echeverri et al, 2019).

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Conclusion and Recommendations

In conclusion, findings found by NAO indicate that regulatory interventions done by many corporations are often limited and inconsistent to effect and practice. Some services, which are classified as universal services, assist vulnerable consumers to access services. Water disconnection has been termed to be illegal. In addition, energy corporations’ have been warned not to disconnect energy of vulnerable consumers, thus they rarely disconnect consumers. However, some consumers have been self-disconnecting their energy connection just to avoid some cost or they just do not want to recharge their meters. This report paper is encouraging service providers such as water, landline telephone corporations’, and energy industries to be offering friendly prices to their consumers who are ranging in brackets of low incomes. However, implementing this recommendation will likely face a lot of opposition and difficulties. Many companies operate on contracts whereby adopting such a suggestion or policy will take time whereas other industries do not care about the financial well-being of their consumers. Thus, implementing such a policy will meet obstacles; however, it is a good policy. Unfortunately, there is no comprehensive information kept by any corporation or regulator concerning the adverse experiences of consumers who are in vulnerable consumer group. Many organizations gather data of complaints raised by consumers but they rarely compute the information they collect on complaints in a manner that can be comparable. Last but not the least, this paper gives a clear picture of regulators. Many regulators lack a better understanding of the expenses of business operations to give a support to vulnerable consumers to fathom firm’s motivation to offer support any other assistance that may result. Nevertheless, they should always equalize responsibilities of protecting consumers whose aim is to evade excessive costs that are used to exploit consumers through hyped prices.


I developed an outline that helped me to do more research on consumer vulnerability. This paper has explored all the provided links as attached in the question. I later relied heavily on Google Scholar to find more information from journal articles on consumer vulnerability. I have also utilized various websites as to develop an understanding of the term ‘consumer vulnerability.’ These websites have been used to also develop a critical analysis of the credibility of the information, by questioning the authenticity of these websites. Moreover, critical analysis has been achieved by comparing what different sources say about consumer vulnerability, and the issues related to this concept. The definition used in the policy brief is one that has, or most elements of it, been present in the majority of the sources used. This process has been repeated for all of the concepts discussed in this brief.


Amine, A. and Gatfaoui, S., 2019. Temporarily vulnerable consumers in a bank services setting. Journal of Services Marketing.

Decker, C., 2017. Concepts of the consumer in competition, regulatory, and consumer protection policies. Journal of competition law & economics, 13(1), pp.151-184.

Echeverri, P. and Salomonson, N., 2019. Consumer vulnerability during mobility service interactions: causes, forms and coping. Journal of Marketing Management, 35(3-4), pp.364-389.

Feld, H., 2019. The Case for the Digital Platform Act: Market Structure and Regulation of Digital Platforms. Roosevelt Institute & Public Knowledge.

umphreys, A. and Wang, R.J.H., 2018. Automated text analysis for consumer research. Journal of Consumer Research, 44(6), pp.1274-1306.

Keep, E., 2018. Scripting the future: exploring potential strategic leadership responses to the marketization of English FE and vocational provision

Kovács, O., 2019. Grounding complexity economics in framing modern governance. Acta Oeconomica, 69(4), pp.571-594.

O'Connor, G.E., Newmeyer, C.E., Wong, N.Y.C., Bayuk, J.B., Cook, L.A., Komarova, Y., Loibl, C., Ong, L.L. and Warmath, D., 2019. Conceptualizing the multiple dimensions of consumer financial vulnerability. Journal of Business Research, 100, pp.421-430

Omstedt, M., 2020. Reading risk: The practices, limits and politics of municipal bond rating. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 52(3), pp.611-631.

Rae, A., Provan, D., Aboelssaad, H. and Alexander, R., 2020. A manifesto for reality-based safety science. Safety science, 126, p.104654.

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