EVP | Consumerâ€™s Union
In an industry that has seen the sharpest slide in advertising pages in over a decade, Consumer Reports sits in an enviable position: it doesnâ€™t accept ads.
Still, its revenue growth has been smallâ€”about 1.5 percent year-over-year through Decemberâ€”and John Sateja, executive vice president of the Consumerâ€™s Union, says he is looking for â€śmodest growthâ€ť in 2009, notable, when most of the consumer magazine industry was down or, at best, flat in 2008.
To achieve this growth, Sateja says the company has added staff in key areas related to Web design and Web development, has built out its health and money franchises, and has increased testingâ€”the core value of the companyâ€™s product offerings.
The companyâ€™s revenues are about $240 million, Sateja says, fueled by 8.5 million paid subscriptions both online and in print. (Print revenue is flat, Sateja says, but ConsumerReports.org is growing.)
Consumer Reports is also trying to get younger. In December, when the Consumerâ€™s Union acquired the Consumerist, an irreverent blog, from Gawker, it was buying it as much for its voice as its youth. â€śConsumer Reports is 40-60 plus,â€ť says Sateja. â€śConsumerist is 18-40.â€ť (The company, as per its policy, immediately stripped the Consumerist of advertising, hoping to turn its significant traffic into subscriptions.)Â They also launched a blog, Tightwad Todd, which has seen traffic soar as a result of the economyâ€™s belt-tightening.
Sateja says another one of his goals is to maintain the companyâ€™s margins while keeping â€śa reasonable level of profit to run the business.â€ť His number one goal, though, is to preserve jobs. â€śWe have over 600 on staff,â€ť Sateja says, â€śand have been growing by about 50 year-over-year.â€ť
Yet Consumer Reports is cutting back on discretionary spending and new hires, even shifting resources and editors to cover money issues.
But that doesnâ€™t mean a full-scale freeze.
â€śWeâ€™re fundamentally different than the ad based models,â€ť says Sateja. â€śWe think our products are affordably priced.â€ť
Where They Will Grow: Consumer Reportsâ€™ â€śmoneyâ€ť franchise has become increasingly important to consumers in a recession, and the company has shifted resources accordingly.
Where They Will Save: Managing staff growth, and, like the consumers they serve, cutting discretionary spending.
Quote: â€śWe place our bets carefully.â€ť
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