The new consumers

Using digital information to ease refugees’ arrival

As consumers, refugees need information just like anyone else. The Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection wants to identify their needs and provide practical tips for using quality online services.

The chal­lenge

Aside from the com­plex­i­ties of the asy­lum pro­ce­dure and cop­ing in a new envi­ron­ment, every­day life as con­sumers espe­cial­ly proves to be dif­fi­cult for refugees: They have to con­clude a mobile phone con­tract in a for­eign lan­guage, for exam­ple, or shop for their daily needs. Com­pe­tent con­sumers can famil­iar­ize them­selves more quick­ly with the applic­a­ble stan­dards in Ger­many and thus gain the nec­es­sary tools for more empow­ered social par­tic­i­pa­tion. Sen­si­bly designed con­sumer pro­tec­tion can thus make a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to the qual­i­ty of pub­lic life, and dig­i­tal con­sumer infor­ma­tion ser­vices play a deci­sive role in this effort. In order to be able to assess whether these ser­vices fit the needs of their tar­get groups, they have to be thor­ough­ly exam­ined and evaluated.

Our approach

Talk­ing to refugees is far more effec­tive than talk­ing about them. The coop­er­a­tion with the tar­get group must always be para­mount. They are the experts when it comes to defin­ing their infor­ma­tion needs and desired forms of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and they should be con­sult­ed and involved. We have worked with them in a num­ber of par­tic­i­pa­tive and inno­v­a­tive ways. 

The result

For two years, we worked with var­i­ous for­mats such as Liv­ing Labs, inter­views and work­shops, involv­ing a group of (refugee) volunteers—the so-called Every­day Ambassadors—from the begin­ning. We also joint­ly mapped, test­ed and eval­u­at­ed all avail­able dig­i­tal infor­ma­tion ser­vices that deal with con­sumer top­ics. We dis­cussed our find­ings with con­sumer advice cen­ters and other stake­hold­ers and pre­sent­ed them at pub­lic events togeth­er with the Every­day Ambas­sadors. In a com­pre­hen­sive and spe­cial­ly pub­lished prac­ti­cal guide, we pro­vide rec­om­men­da­tions on how dig­i­tal infor­ma­tion ser­vices aimed at migrants need to be designed so that they are help­ful and peo­ple actu­al­ly use them. Anoth­er impor­tant result of the project was the friend­ships that we formed with our Every­day Ambassadors.

This project was car­ried out by iRights e.V. Staff mem­bers from iRights.Lab have often devel­oped and car­ried out projects—including this one—for other enti­ties and asso­ci­a­tions in a per­son­al capac­i­ty. In addi­tion, there was a close con­nec­tion and exchange of knowl­edge with the iRights.Lab dur­ing its plan­ning and implementation.


Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection

Das Lab

Schützen­straße 8
D‑10117 Berlin
Tele­fon: +49 30 40 36 77 230
Fax: +49 30 40 36 77 260