SAAFECS is a professional association composed of scholars, educators, and students in the discipline of Consumer Sciences. This discipline includes various areas of specialisation focusing on Food, Nutrition, Fashion and Clothing, Interior Design and Merchandising, Consumer Journalism and Hospitality Management. This discipline covers two different perspectives: (a) to enlighten, educate and advise the consumer or individual and (b) to consider the consumer as part of a larger economic and social environment where decisions are made, products are bought and an exchange of information and resources takes place. This particular discipline places the consumer in an environment where personal decisions about their health, well-being and lifestyle, through the consumption and purchase of such items as food and clothing or services that are used, are made. It is here where other disciplines practiced by nutritionists, dieticians, family ecologists and others find a useful link with the interests of the Consumer Scientists at SAAFECS.
This approach deviates from Home Economics to the extent that Consumer Sciences places focus on how the consumer operates within the larger economic paradigm and not on a smaller individual or family system; although the consumer does function within these environments. This means that the decisions consumers’ make, rely on knowledge about nutrition, food, textiles and many other areas which will influence their choice of product, the way they are influenced and their decision to purchase. Consumer Science is interested in determining where consumers lack knowledge to make responsible decisions regarding healthy living and how consumer education can assist in narrowing these gaps. Consumer Sciences also understands the behaviour consumers apply during their decision processes and this may guide product development.
Overall, Consumer Sciences is a more market driven discipline aimed at understanding the consumer, assisting in informing the consumer and helping manufacturers and industry make appropriate and well-informed consumer product decisions that would be to the benefit of the consumer whether it is to assist healthy food choices, more economic purchasing decisions or just to be an informed and responsible citizen. This is what makes Consumer Sciences unique, as it is a discipline that strengthens both the consumer and the larger market driven environment.
Prof Elizabeth Kempen