Hearst Magazines is considering a major overhaul of 124-year-old flagship Good Housekeeping in a bid to move it from the older women’s service category to the faster-growing, so-called lifestyle category, whose readers are younger and more affluent.
If a test underway pans out, the company may raise GH’s cover price to $3.49 from the current $2.50, increase the trim size and reduce its 4.6 million-rate base. A decision is expected to come within two to three months.
GH editor Rosemary Ellis already has sought to modernize the content of the magazine since taking over in 2006, adding more white space and beauty and fashion content.
“If the metrics play out the way we hope they will, we will take the entire magazine up a size,” said Michael Clinton, executive vp and chief marketing officer at Hearst. “It would be a huge investment. It would position the magazine for the next 125 years.”
Older women’s service books have been trying to replicate the advertising success of modern service titles like Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia’s Martha Stewart Living and Time Inc.’s Real Simple since they sprung up over the past couple of decades.
In considering a revamp for Good Housekeeping, Hearst hopes to duplicate results it had at 105-year-old Redbook. Two years ago, it spent seven figures to increase that book’s trim size by 5 percent and upgrade the paper stock. To help fund the changes, Hearst lowered Redbook’s rate base to 2.2 million from 2.35 million and raised the cover price to $3.50 from $2.99.
Those changes, along with added sex and fashion content, helped shift print buyers’ perception of Redbook to a lifestyle book, and from 2006 to 2007, Redbook’s ad pages grew 8.8 percent to 1,650 versus 2 percent for the women’s service/lifestyle category overall, per Publishers Information Bureau.