Does the world need another shopping magazine? The answer from that long-standing arbiter of product reliability, Consumer Reports — is a resounding Yes.
The idea behind ShopSmart, a new companion to Consumer Reports being launched this summer, is to reach out to younger women who want a quick read on the best deals in household products they buy frequently, skipping the extensive ratings and charts common to its sibling publication.
According to early mock-ups provided to The Associated Press, the magazine will have a breezier look than Consumer Reports, with punchier colors and graphics and shorter, easy-to-read items. Consumer Reports planned to announce the magazine's debut on Monday.
Lisa Lee Freeman, a longtime magazine editor who will be taking the reins at ShopSmart, said in an interview that the magazine will be very different from the various shopping titles aimed at women these days such as the successful Lucky and Domino, both published by Conde Nast, and Shop Etc., from Hearst Corp.
Like its companion magazine Consumer Reports, which is also published by Consumers Union, an independent nonprofit product testing and consumer advocacy organization in Yonkers, New York, ShopSmart will accept no advertising.
"You can trust our advice because we have no agenda," Freeman said. "The other magazines have advertisers they need to please."
By not taking ads, Consumer Reports is an anomaly in the magazine world. But its formula has been paying off, with the magazine now boasting more than 4 million circulation, about the same as Time magazine, as well as some 2 million paying subscribers to its Web site.
Freeman, who has held senior editing posts at several magazines, including Consumer Reports, says the magazine had found that it wasn't reaching enough young women. The average reader of Consumer Reports, she said, was a man in his 50s.
The new magazine will be aimed principally at women over 30, featuring advice on shopping for a wide variety of things, including food, beauty products, home and yard products. And just like its big brother, ShopSmart won't hold back bad news from its testing labs.
"We're going to blow up a lot of myths about shopping," Freeman said. "A lot of people think Benjamin Moore is the best paint, but our tests have not found that to be true. A lot of people think Sub-Zero fridges are the hottest thing, but our surveys have shown they're not the most reliable."
The first issue of the magazine goes on sale Aug. 1 and will appear thereafter on a quarterly schedule.