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How Chemical Watch used customer research to reinvent their subscription product

Chemical Watch is a niche B2B publisher, providing intelligence on product safety to global chemical industry professionals.

Launched in 2007 as a publisher of subscription newsletters, they had evolved a strong reputation as a provider of news and insight, and a robust media business with recurring revenues.

Two years ago they embarked on an in depth research programme among their customers and used the insights to completely reinvent their editorial proposition.  Now instead of a collection of distinct publications, marketed individually, they offer organisations a single membership providing tailored access for their teams to the whole range of articles and insight produced by the Chemical Watch experts.  

We spoke to Richard Butterworth, Commercial Director of Chemical Watch, in depth about how he and the CW team ran this project and how they are managing the transition for both their team and their customers. 

The research process uncovered some unmet information needs, which have prompted the team to develop new elements in the membership proposition.

The reinvention of the business has caused plenty of challenges for this relatively small business: 

  • establishing and maintaining a customer advisory panel
  • working with tech partners to fundamentally redesign how their content is presented to enterprise customers
  • adapting editorial content and enhancing tagging
  • acquiring new skills in enterprise sales and customer success
  • migrating existing customers to the new membership package

However, so far the investment in research and technology is paying off, with the higher value membership proposition realising significant growth in recurring spend among existing customers.


At Making Publishing Pay in February 2020, Richard Butterworth will talk through his journey over the last couple of years and share tips on how the team have tackled these challenges.

  • How to manage a large-scale customer research project and interpret the findings as user needs
  • How to work with a tech agency and create a product that meets those user needs
  • How to create a new approach to sales and marketing, and bring in new skills
  • How to re-set the value/price equation with long standing customers and ensure they derive value from their membership investment

Delegates will have plenty of opportunities to ask questions about the process and understand how they could apply a similar approach to their own media business.


Making Publishing Pay is a conference for independent publishing and media businesses that will inspire with stories of innovation and provide real-world practical tips on how to diversify revenues and build value within a media business.

See the full agenda here:

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