Consumer Reports Annual Report 2021

Messages From Our President & Board Chair

A Message From Our President

 

For 85 years, Consumer Reports has been working with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and more just world. We began in a time when the market became more complex and advertising too often replaced objective facts with glossy falsehoods. Our founders sought to deliver trusted information through product testing and reporting, sharing vital information with the world. In the more than eight decades since, we’ve used our platform to warn the public about the dangers of cigarettes, ensure seat belts were standard in cars, standardize child car seats, and raise the alarm on pesticide levels in fruits and vegetables.

And we’ve continued that work over the last year, through a global health crisis, thanks to every member of our talented team.

The CR testers who have continued to build on their incredible work of holding companies and their products to high standards, testing over 2,000 products in more than 100 categories in fiscal year 2021 alone and under stringent pandemic health and safety protocols. The advocates who have fought for consumers on so many issues, from helping pass federal legislation stopping surprise medical bills to calling out harmful company products, like the Boppy Company recall of baby lounging pads that our investigation linked to at least seven infant deaths. The researchers and journalists who through surveys, reporting, and analysis have kept CR focused on the pulse of consumers and helped advocate for critical consumer initiatives, like strengthening water safety and highlighting our broken credit report system. Our board members who have helped guide us through this pandemic and the tough decisions that have come with it.

And of course, the members and consumers whose support is critical to our work—the 1.5 million who joined CR this fiscal year and the 1.6 million who signed petitions, emailed policymakers and companies, and helped build a better marketplace for all.

None of this would be possible without our committed team—without all of you.

But there’s still much more work to do. Once again, there’s been a shift where consumers face a market too complex and opaque to navigate, a result of the expanding digital frontier. The large-scale collection of personal data threatens people’s rights to security, privacy, and control over their own personal information and data. A handful of tech giants control more and more of how we communicate, acquire information, make purchases, and live our lives. And rights that we secured in the previous decades must be fiercely fought for again as digital innovation and use outpaces the protections and consumer rights needed to keep the market working for all of us.

Together, we must not only keep up with the changing marketplace but also outpace it. That means raising our voices and having people across the country join in that chorus for real choices that strengthen competition and reinforce fairness in the marketplace. This has been my goal since becoming president and CEO seven years ago, and I’m proud to say we’ve made a lot of progress.

CR Innovation in the Digital Age

With your help our work continues to evolve. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, we implemented the new CR Recommended mark to provide consumers with ratings and reviews wherever they are purchasing products and services. And as consumers’ priorities expand, so do the criteria we use to rate products. CR’s Green Choice program offers consumer guidance on vehicles with the lowest greenhouse gas and smog-forming emissions, and will provide environmental sustainability guidance on home appliances as well.

We’ve also doubled down on CR’s Digital Lab, our community of experts and technology fellows taking on the evolving challenges of the digital marketplace. We’re also impacting the market in new ways with our trusted consumer insights data. With Consumer Reports Data Intelligence, manufacturers, regulators, and researchers can subscribe to our consumer-driven insights, participate in working-groups, and access reports with unpublished data and insights from CR’s rigorous and trusted research, testing, and surveys. The pace of new products and services hitting the market means that it’s more crucial than ever to have upstream impact—improving their performance and design before they reach the marketplace.

And we’re growing consumer power by engaging people and communities in new ways. We launched Let’s Broadband Together to push for a more accessible and affordable internet. We brought together more than 50 civil rights, nonprofit, and other organizations. And to date, tens of thousands of consumers across the country are participating by helping us gather the latest information on internet prices and speeds and advocate for better broadband for all.

These are just a few examples of how we’re working to re-energize and re-ignite our movement—how we’re continuously adapting to improve the way we support the people who rely on us, ensure that our work, both internally and externally, addresses the needs of all communities, and tilt the marketplace toward consumers across the country.

In 1936, our founders revolutionized what it meant to have consumer power. When the first issue of Consumer Reports was released, it promised “to provide honest, disinterested technical information” on vital issues. Eighty-five years later, that commitment continues to guide us. As we look to the future, there will be new hurdles ahead. But with you at our side, we will introduce new ways to grow and new ways to revolutionize what it means to shape the marketplace and empower consumers. Together, we will continue our fight to prioritize people over profits and provide millions of Americans the trusted analysis and advocacy they need for the next 85 years and beyond.

Marta L. Tellado, PhD
President & CEO of Consumer Reports

 

A Message From Our Board Chair

 

The last year has been one of continuous uncertainty due to the global pandemic. And it’s made us confront the fact that we must continue to evolve to new obstacles as a country. CR has also had to answer that question—how we can and need to reimagine ourselves during this unprecedented time.

While we all hoped that we had truly turned a page this summer, it’s clear that this crisis will continue to have an impact on organizations’ work and people’s lives. But it’s also clear that Consumer Reports and its incredible staff are determined to meet its mission. Because despite the hurdles this crisis has created, it has not undercut our commitment to helping consumers through our trusted, science-based analysis, our investigations, and our advocacy.

Moving forward, I know this team will continue its success, living up to our foundational values: that we are mission-driven, science-based, and people-centered. We must take what we’ve learned from the last 18 months and use it to help keep people safe and support consumers through the independent information and advice that they rely on.

I want to thank our President and CEO, Marta Tellado, and the entire CR staff for their relentless work and commitment to our mission and values. I also want to thank our members for their continued generosity and support for science-based, consumer-focused information. Our online traffic demonstrated that people were searching for trusted partners during this uncertain time, and through the combined commitment of this staff and our members, we provided them with exactly that.

None of us know when this pandemic will end. But the last year has shown that CR can both overcome the challenges of this crisis and strengthen its commitment to its mission and values. It can both live up to CR’s tremendous legacy and build on it through a unique social enterprise that empowers people across the country, confronts the powers of Big Tech and others, and bends the marketplace in favor of consumers. The answer to who we are will continue to evolve. But what won’t change is the dedication of this team to our mission. Together, we will ensure that the future of the consumer movement is not only promising but also ready to tackle whatever lies ahead.

Joaquín Alvarado
Board Chair