Reuters targets China in consumer push

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The Independent Online

Reuters is to start offering its products directly to consumers in China as part of a strategy that will see the company push into consumer markets across the world. The news and financial information giant is about to enter the final year of a painful three-year cost-cutting programme and is starting to formulate a strategy for growth.

It will today announce the appointment of Glenn Asano in the newly created role of head of consumer media for China. Formerly Reuters' head of media for Asia, where he oversaw sales and service, Mr Asano will lead the marketing and development of Reuters products for the consumer online, mobile and television markets in China. Unlike Reuters' core customers working in the financial markets, who pay substantial subscription fees, the company will target private investors and business professionals with its new offerings.

Chris Ahearn, the president of Reuters media division, said: "You could call this Reuters 'lite' for a new audience."

The company will offer data, research reports and news for internet and mobile phone users in China, which represents the world's biggest mobile phone market with more than 300 million users, and more than 90 million internet users.

The move mirrors initiatives elsewhere in the world where Reuters is seeking to put its brand directly in front of consumers, to exploit the strength of its name and tap into new revenue streams using technologies.

Later this week, the company will unveil its product for interactive television in developed markets on a home "media centre" to be launched by Microsoft. It will allow consumers to play Reuters' video clips, selecting topics via a remote control handset. The service will be funded by advertising.

Mr Ahearn said: "We will be developing personal news services for consumer markets such as the UK. It will allow people to pick what they want to see from Reuters. ... We're talking about a world in which individuals are playing the role of a news editor."

A number of companies tried unsuccessfully to offer consumers an unfiltered news service in the internet boom years, though Reuters at the time decided to wholesale its content, to the likes of Yahoo!. The company now appears to believe this was a mistake.

Tom Glocer, the chief executive of Reuters, said in a memo to staff last week: "I have big ambitions for our media business which I believe can grow with our brand to serve millions of consumers directly."