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Opinion: A new era for Consumer magazine

We hope you like the new-look Consumer magazine. It’s bigger, more focused, and more relevant to you.

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It comes as a result of speaking to you about what you want from a magazine, and in the context of a world where most product research starts online.

Nearly 60 years ago when the magazine was launched, we had an open field. There was no one else independently researching and reporting on consumer goods and services. We also had the luxury of time. We could spend months testing heaters, jugs, toasters and fridges in our labs, then report the results. Products didn’t change that often and our magazine was the only place consumers could turn to for trusted advice.

Of course we haven’t been frozen in time – our website is the way many of you connect with us today. We’re reporting on products nearly as fast as they are being produced. We run comprehensive power-switching and telco-comparison websites, and we have the biggest heat pump database in the country.

Where once we ran all our consumer satisfaction surveys through the magazine and by postal return, today they are all completed online. So in this changed climate, what purpose should our magazine serve? That’s what we asked you. The result? A chunky publication filled with useful, timely information. It’s themed (this time seasonally). It includes all the stuff we think you need to know to keep your home warm, dry and healthy this winter – in fact more than 30 pages of it. If you’re a tenant, and increasing numbers of you are, plenty of our advice is relevant to you too.

We’ve kept in some tests, but only those relevant to the issue – lots of heating-type test results, slow cookers and clothes dryers. We’ve even trialled a “magic” product that promises to remove mould from your curtains to see if the claims stack up.

There are six pages devoted to video streaming services – how they work and what you get for your money. If you’re stuck indoors, you might as well be entertained in the best way possible.

And we’ve surveyed you about your appliances to find which are the most reliable. We’ve been collecting these data for more than 10 years. We’ve also asked you about your energy provider. If you’re thinking of switching, these results are a good place to start (before heading to powerswitch.org.nz – our free power-switching website).

The magazine will become less of a reference point for our test results (you can go online for those whenever you want), and more focused on consumer topics of the day. The next issue will be about food and food labelling – how to read the labels, what they mean and how much store you can put on health claims. We’re also looking at “super” foods and comparing them with not so super foods – is there a difference?

To enable us to prepare these bigger, themed magazines, we’ll publish every two months.

The exciting outcome of our research was that the magazine is still important to you (it is to us too). But it needs to change to better reflect how you do your research (and pleasure reading), and to remain the useful tool it was when it launched all those years ago. Happy reading.


By Sue Chetwin
CEO


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