Why It Pays to Consult Consumer Reports

Apr 27, 2022

Consumer Reports has, over the years, become the gold standard for evaluating everyday products and services. And because of their exceptional neutrality – they do not accept advertising of any kind – their findings are widely regarded as unimpeachable.

Most of us take Consumer Reports pretty much for granted. But how do they actually work?

Consumer Reports, as explained on its website, ‘is the largest independent consumer-testing organization in the world.’

It is an organization employing hundreds of people who “work every day to test products, inform you of the results, and protect your consumer interests. In our dozens of state-of-the-art labs, we test everything from air conditioners to ziti.”

The Consumer Reports Process

Oddly enough, very few people understand the process Consumer Reports follows to test products. Nor do many people grasp just how important consumer feedback, in the form of telephone calls, letters and emails, is to the work Consumer Reports performs on our behalf. In other words, the Consumer Reports team do not work unaided. We – you and me – are crucial to their success.

Rather than cover a lot of ground superficially, we have decided to focus on a single product category to demonstrate just how exhaustive the Consumer Reports process can be. Trust us, from can openers to cars, the Consumer Reports is brutally forensic.

Evaluating the Automobile

One of the most iconic products routinely subjected to the Consumer Reports evaluation process is the automobile. Let’s consider how Consumer Reports evaluates an automobile, a potential minefield of miss-information and deception for the average consumer.

Consumer Reports operate a massive complex built on 327 acres of land in rural Connecticut – the largest independent testing facility in the world – supporting over 20 personnel.

The Consumer Reports Auto Test Center team includes automotive engineers, technicians, and support staff who drive each car they test for thousands of miles. The number of cars tested each year is approximately 80. All are bought anonymously.

For a comprehensive look at their analytical process as it relates to cars, please visit this link.

What About J.D. Power?

J.D. Power is widely known for the endorsement value of its product awards. Yet the company derives most of its revenue from corporations that seek the data collected from J.D. Power surveys for internal use.

Companies using J.D. Power surveys range from automotive, cellphone, and computer manufacturers to homebuilders and utility companies. But to use the J.D. Power logo and to quote the survey results in advertising, companies must pay a licensing fee to J.D. Power – fees that contribute significantly to earnings.

By contrast, Consumer Reports – published since 1930 by Consumers Union – accepts no advertising, pays for all the products it tests, and as a non-profit organization has no shareholders. Enough said.

Something to keep in mind the next time you’re shopping for a new car – or even a can opener.

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