Is Consumer Reports still relevant?

More questions than answers in this post. Over the last few years, it appears that Consumer Reports (CR) is used less than it used to. I don’t have the exact figures but there are so many competing online resources that test and evaluate products, I’m wondering about CR’s future.

SOME QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS
Is there a future for Consumer Reports (CR)? I mean, is it still relevant in today’s online world with free alternatives such as Amazon, Digg and others? Will another provider provide that service? Yelp or Epinions.com? What about others such as CNET Reviews? Pricegrabber.com?

Has their subscriptions fallen in the U.S while their main readership group continues to age? Will CR gradually go out of style, as boomers and their parents’ consumer habits change or lessen?

Will CR continue to be a fee based online and magazine resource that many turn to?

Will CR need to change their business model to continue to look for ways to provide online value? More in depth investigations or testing? Specialize in other ways? Focused on safety?

Granted, purchasing a one year magazine subscription to Consumer Reports is not expensive – it’s probably around $12-15 (if you’re willing to hunt) with freebies thrown in, but is CR still the number one source readers turn to when reviewing products? Does anyone under 40 read CR or think it’s relevant?

Has it hurt their brand that they don’t evaluate all reviewable items? Why don’t they list items they don’t review and provide reasons why?

Maybe CR’s new business model will exclusively focus on automobiles and electronics. Could they continue to be relevant if they specialized their testing and evaluation focus?

Why can’t magazine subscribers have some input on which products can be reviewed that hasn’t yet been reviewed? Would that not be more customer centric?

Is it possible to learn what items or products CR will be reviewing in the future?

I ordered the CR magazine for about 4 years and saved every issue but rarely look back and use these older magazines as a resource but this doesn’t happen. Things change so much that items they reviewed last year may not apply to today’s marketplace.

How useful is a one-year subscription if you may only have 1-2 products to review? Why not choose another online resource, pay your library a visit, or call the reference desk?

Kevin Schwarm

I have over 25 years of professional experience in business, information technology (IT), and customer service. Industry experience in retail, medical insurance, higher education, non-profit, financial services, and property and casualty insurance. Customer focused professional interested in providing value (save time, money and aggravation) by evaluating and analyzing information, services and products with a unique perspective.

2 Responses

  1. Kevin Schwarm says:

    Regarding Consumer Reports, I stumbled upon some disparing remarks from a reader. They felt CR's testers were concerned about insignificant convenience features, and rarely do the product reviews incorporate anything about durability which is a very important part of quality.

    Read the article with comments…
    http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/16/a-consumer-reports-for-the-cheap/?src=me&ref=business