Trading or campaigning?

Which? has in recent years successfully built its trading arm into a £100m turnover business, using its profits to fund its campaigning and consumer advice work. However, there were increasing concerns about how the two parts of the organisation interrelated and how the tensions between driving income and creating social benefit could be managed.

We were therefore asked to conduct a strategic review of the alignment between Which’s trading and campaigns work, reporting our conclusions to the Chair and Board.

After extensive work with staff from across the organisation, together with desk research and interviews with competitors, Ministers and officials, we produced a series of recommendations for structural change and the introduction of new safeguards to identify and manage the potential risks involved in continuing to prioritise income generation.

The recommendations were accepted by the Board. A restructure of campaigns led to increased effectiveness and impact, and work was undertaken to refine and regularise the sharing of data across the organisation. Better systems were introduced to increase alignment between trading activity and Which’s policy positioning, reducing the risk that commercial considerations might undermine trust in the Which? brand.