Has Good Housekeeping Gone Too Far?

Articles
April 14, 2009

Has Good Housekeeping Gone Too Far?

Would Good Housekeeping’s founders be rolling in their graves at the news that the iconic publication will now be selling its own branded pantry products through retail? How does a trusted dispenser of advice for well over a century thrust its own items onto store shelves in direct competition with other brands and items it covers for readers? What can 24 million readers reasonably expect GH writers and editors to state on the magazine’s pages when covering a category in which it now plays? What might their editorial teams not cover now if it might affect sales of their new Good Food Collection? Glen Ellen Brown, vice president of Hearst Brand Development called the collection an opportunity for readers “to create delicious, healthy and affordable meals with ease from the brand they already welcome into their homes as a trusted friend and reliable resource.” She noted GH readers want “simple and versatile meal planning” and that Tulocay & Co.is a “natural partner” because of its experience in developing house brands. Their idea, said Karen Foley, senior vice president of sales at Tulocay & Co., is to leverage GH’s reputation and become the “go-to brand” for consumers concerned about health, wellness and food safety, and whose needle keeps moving with respect to value perception.

Would Good Housekeeping’s founders be rolling in their graves at the news that the iconic publication will now be selling its own branded pantry products through retail?

How does a trusted dispenser of advice for well over a century thrust its own items onto store shelves in direct competition with other brands and items it covers for readers?  What can 24 million readers reasonably expect GH writers and editors to state on the magazine’s pages when covering a category in which it now plays? What might their editorial teams not cover now if it might affect sales of their new Good Food Collection?

Glen Ellen Brown, vice president of Hearst Brand Development called the collection an opportunity for readers “to create delicious, healthy and affordable meals with ease from the brand they already welcome into their homes as a trusted friend and reliable resource.” She noted GH readers want “simple and versatile meal planning” and that Tulocay & Co.is a “natural partner” because of its experience in developing house brands.

Their idea, said Karen Foley, senior vice president of sales at Tulocay & Co., is to leverage GH’s reputation and become the “go-to brand” for consumers concerned about health, wellness and food safety, and whose needle keeps moving with respect to value perception.

The company announced the collection comprises all-natural, value-priced food products made with quality ingredients and designed for easy, quick preparation.

All of this may be true. The foods may be wonderfully positioned for consumers’ concerns today. They may gain a fair share of sales, and earn some secondary display outposts for their magazine in the process.

But we at SupermarketGuru.com feel that readers can never regard this magazine in the same way as before. With the launch of this collection, a revered publication brand has lost its credibility.  We understand that publishers need to survive—indeed many are failing in this recession—and Hearst management is looking for more performance from this asset. This is a misdirected effort that should be pulled before it ever gets underway, if the once-proud GH brand is to be viewed as an unwavering voice for consumers once these tough times are behind us.

Today’s managers at GH ought to look at their founders’ portraits, gaze into their eyes and souls, study their histories and borrow their spirit to come up with a better solution to strengthen its own magazine brand before launching a new collection that competes with some of the very brands that supported GH so well and for so long.  If  they fail to do this, we’re calling this the beginning of their end.