The Local Consumer Information System: An Institution-To-Be?


  • The proposal presented here has been submitted to the National Science Foundation for possible funding.

  • The authors are indebted to W. Keith Bryant for helpful comments.


This paper makes the case for the creation, testing and perfection of a new economic institution–a local consumer information system. The heart of the system would be a data bank to which the consumer could address questions and receive answers repeatedly regarding the local market. The purpose of the system would be to deliver relevant consumer information more efficiently. For the individual consumer this new institution would help identify his best buy variety of a product, quickly and at low cost. It would also tell him, again quickly and at low cost, from what local retailers and at what local prices this best buy variety might be purchased. This new institution would serve all consumers in a given community by lowering many prices, quality constant. By reproducing itself in different locales, as the product testing organizations have, it might be expected to multiply and serve consumers in many communities. The paper discusses the types of information to be provided, methods of information collection and dissemination, means of insuring accuracy and fairness and how it might be financed.