Pearson Announces New Direct-to-Consumer Product Focus

Managing Editor

The massive education company Pearson has announced the creation of a new direct-to-consumer division, which could bring an increased focus on products directed to families, working adults, and college students, among others.

The company did not offer many details as to what specific products could emerge from the group, or how they would be marketed to audiences different than the ones that Pearson serves now.

But a company official noted the backgrounds of new executives within the group, including Ishantha Lokuge, who joined Pearson from Shutterfly last year. He now serves as chief global product officer and co-president for the new direct-to-consumer division.

Lokuge has already helped Pearson reimagine and launch several digital product initiatives. The organization will reveal new details of other direct-to-consumer products and services when it releases its full-year results in March, according to the company.

Those products will likely span “all ages, from K-12 to higher ed, to continuing ed/workforce development,” the Pearson official told EdWeek Market Brief in an e-mail.

The announcement comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has forced parents across the U.S. and the world to take on new, uncomfortable roles as at-home facilitators of their children’s learning. Many education companies have, as a result, sought to make their products more user-friendly to parents, as opposed to simply thinking of their core users as classroom teachers.

The new division is not a direct response to COVID, but rather an effort to capitalize on new products and capabilities Pearson has been developing, the Pearson official said.

“Pearson has touchpoints with tens of millions learners a year,” the official said. “The opportunities that digital learning presents in a world going through change and transformation are immense, and having a consumer purpose is really important as it will enable us to take advantage of the opportunities for lifelong learning.”

Under New Management

In its announcement, Pearson said the new direct-to-consumer division will be co-directed by Lokuge and Lynne Frank, who most recently served as president of international marketing and worldwide planning and operations at Warner Bros. She has joined Pearson as chief marketing officer and co-president of direct-to-consumer.

They will both report to Andy Bird, a former Disney executive who was recently named CEO of Pearson, which has 22,500 employees across 70 nations.

“With the accelerating interest in digital learning across the globe, we need to meet consumers where they are,” Bird said in a statement. “By doing this, we will be able to seize an incredible opportunity to have a direct relationship with millions of lifelong learners.”

Bird has shown an interest in bringing more direct-to-consumer strategy to Pearson, which, over the past few years has gone through an often difficult process of remaking itself from a media-and-publishing focused company into what it calls an international learning company.

Reorganizations of the company’s business lines and sales of some products, including the FT Group, have coincided with thousands of employee layoffs.

The company’s U.S. curriculum and instructional materials business was sold last year for $250 million to Nexus Capital Management. Earlier this year, Pearson K12 was rebranded as Savvas Learning Company.

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