Consumers Union

Case Study – Consumers Union

Consumers Union is an independent consumer product testing organization and publisher of books and magazines. Consumers Union’s flagship publication, Consumer Reports presents general consumer advice and publishes the results of Consumers Union’s tests. It had a circulation of over 4.5 million in 2008. The organization also publishes a number of other magazines, including Consumer Reports on Health and Consumer Reports Money Adviser, and several books, such as the annual Consumer Reports Buying Guide, the Consumer Reports Baby Book and How to Clean Practically Anything.

In 1984, Consumers Union came to Access Innovations seeking help to convert their monthly flagship magazine,Consumer Reports, into a digital format suitable for the newly emerging digital content market place. Over the years Access has provided a number of different indexing and data conversion services for Consumers Union. Currently, Access Innovations provides indexes for Consumer Reports publications.

Access Innovations generates one-year indexes for every issue of Consumer Reports magazine. Though not using a controlled vocabulary, every effort is made to ensure that the indexes are clear and consistent within the guidelines laid down by Consumers Union. Access Innovations also generates indexes for many of Consumers Union’s book publications which include cross-references for common synonyms, increasing ease of use.

Until 2009, Access Innovations also took published copies of Consumer Reports, the annual Consumer Reports Buying GuideConsumer Reports on Health and Consumer Reports Money Adviser and transformed them into digital text files. Even when electronic files were already available, they were generally not designed for ease of conversion to a text-only format, so hand-keying was necessary. Article headers were added to provide publication data and aid in searching. These headers include keywords selected from a controlled vocabulary maintained by Consumers Union. Once an issue was properly formatted, it was sent to LexisNexis where it became part of their research database.

Every month for more than 25 years, Access Innovations successfully converted Consumer Reports into a standardized digital format, allowing Consumers Union to extend their valuable print product into a variety of digital products, greatly increasing its usefulness and increasing its revenue streams.