ISO (International Organization for Standardization) has just published two new guides for standards writers that will help them address purchase information and product packaging needs of consumers.

"Both guides were written to be of utility to the chairs/secretaries/members of ISO technical committees and their working groups, providing checklists of the needs of consumers," said the Chair of the working group that developed the guides. "Ideally one or both guides should be in the knapsack of every committee secretary."

The new editions of ISO/IEC Guide 14 (purchase information) and ISO/IEC Guide 41 (product packaging), which replace the 1977 and 1984 versions respectively, have been updated to take account of new consumer requirements and expectations, to reflect the growing demand for standards in the field of services and to address new methods of purchasing products, such as Internet sales.

ISO/IEC Guide 14, Purchase information on goods and services intended for consumers, offers advice as to the information prospective purchasers (whether of products or services) require and expect. It outlines general principles and recommendations for contents, methods, formats and design so that the information will enable consumers to compare and choose products and services.

ISO/IEC Guide 41, Packaging - Recommendations for addressing consumer needs, will help assess the most suitable type of packaging for products before they are put on the market for consumer use. It gives the general recommendations to be taken into consideration when determining packaging in order to protect goods and to maximize benefits for consumers.

The new guides, which can be used either separately or in conjunction with other identified ISO guides, provide a comprehensive framework for addressing the needs of consumers in standards under development. They are primarily intended for those involved in the preparation and revision of standards for consumer products or services, but can also be used by product designers, manufacturers, technical writers and other bodies, such as enforcement agencies and consumer ombudsmen.