A consumers' co-operative is an enterprise owned by consumers and managed democratically which aims at fulfilling the needs and aspirations of their members. They operate within the market system, independently of the state, as a form of mutual aid, oriented toward service rather than pecuniary profit. Consumers' cooperatives often take the form of retail outlets owned and operated by their consumers, such as food co-ops. However, there are many types of consumers' cooperatives, operating in areas such as health care, insurance, housing, utilities and personal finance (including credit unions).
In some countries, consumers' cooperatives are known as cooperative retail societies or retail co-ops, though they should not be confused with retailers' cooperatives, whose members are retailers rather than consumers.
Consumers' cooperatives may, in turn, form cooperative federations. These may come in the form of cooperative wholesale societies, through which consumers' cooperatives collectively purchase goods at wholesale prices and, in some cases, own factories. Alternatively, they may be members of cooperative unions.
Consumer cooperation has been a focus of study in the field of cooperative economics.