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School of Physiology, Nutrition and Consumer Sciences

 

SUBJECT GROUP CONSUMER SCIENCES

Welcome to the subject group Consumer Sciences of the Northwest University.

From the term Consumer Sciences two important aspects can be identified, which can fundamentally be used to define Consumer Sciences. The first core focus point is the South African Consumer and secondly the fact that the consumer is studied from a scientific perspective. Why is the South African consumer a focus point?

The point of departure of Consumer Sciences is that the South African consumer makes consumer decisions on a daily basis in terms of services required and products which are purchased. These services and products are used by the consumer to fulfil needs. Furthermore consumers have limited knowledge about certain aspects that concern their life and only have certain skills to address needs.

Consumer sciences approaches the South African consumer from three main components namely foods, clothing and consumer resources which amongst others include housing and interior design. The basic needs of consumers, for which they need specific knowledge and skills in order to be responsible and informed consumers, stem from these three components. Consumer Sciences studies the consumer within these three main components in order to have a better understanding of a typical South African consumer.

The diversity of the South African consumer has also become an important focus point within the government and the industry. Both these instances maintain the perspective that a large percentage of South African consumers is in need of knowledge about the three components (foods, clothing and consumer resources). This knowledge helps to improve their life skills. In addition the consumers also need skills to address and better their socio-economic position. In this respect the consumer scientist is able to extend the capacity of the South African consumer to be a responsible and informed consumer and to empower them to better their quality of life. Consumer education is an essential service delivered by the Consumer scientist within the industry. In this field the consumer needs assistance, guidance and advice in order to make appropriate consumer decisions on services and products. The education of the consumer scientist will enable him/her to make a valuable educational contribution. Additionally the consumer scientist is able to help manufacturers to develop products and services aimed at the needs of the South African consumer.

Understanding of the needs of the South African consumer is explored in a scientific way within the attitudes, perceptions and ideas framework of consumers regarding the three components (foods, clothing and resources). The consequence is that the education of the Consumer Sciences student is based on the results of scientific consumer behaviour research.

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