Interview: Inside Good Housekeeping Institute’s First-Ever Store In The Mall Of America (With A Little Help From Amazon)
The ‘GH Lab’ pop-up features over 40 ‘elite’ products tested by chemists, engineers and scientists, ‘so consumers can shop with confidence,’ says editor-in-chief Jane Francisco
The Good Housekeeping Institute is bottling its products-tested-by-lab-coat-wearing-chemists brand equity with its first store ever in the Mall of America, featuring a highly-curated mix of 40 “elite” lifestyle goods vetted by experts in a space designed so that shoppers can experience “the rigorous science of GH Labs,” Jane Francisco, editor in chief of Good Housekeeping magazine, told PSFK.
And in a collaborative brand activation, products in the GH Lab will be shoppable via Amazon’s in-store QR SmileCodes, whereby consumers can purchase items directly from the Amazon App or from GH Lab’s online storefront on Amazon.com.
The 2,800-square foot “shoppable showroom” reflects each of the institute’s six testing labs, from beauty to tech, with products bearing its signature rankings: Good Housekeeping Seal holders, Best-of-the-Test winners and GH Lab picks.
The GH institute is the 118-year old brand extension of Good Housekeeping magazine, where its labs co-exist at parent company Hearst's iconic headquarters building in New York City,
It tests and evaluates thousands of products each year—from shampoo to snacks and strollers—for the magazine, website, as well as The Good Housekeeping Seal and the Green Good Housekeeping Seal, which appear on products worldwide.
Now the institute is pushing the branding limits of its legacy safeguarding consumers’ well being with a store built around its fabled seal of approval.
It’s what shoppers want—curated product experiences, Francisco said. “The Good Housekeeping Institute launched in 1900 and began testing products in 1902. The expert engineers, scientists and chemists who work in our six labs test for safety and efficacy to ensure they are standing up to their claims,” she said. “Consumers face a crowded marketplace with endless options—which can lead to a challenging and frustrating shopping experience. We wanted to bring the GH Institute to life and take the guesswork out of shopping. The GH Lab delivers on that idea by showcasing curated products that have been carefully vetted and tested by the GH Institute—so consumers can shop with confidence,” she said.
Consumers still want to interact with products, “but they don’t want to waste time looking through hundreds of options to find what they need.”
A ‘Less Is More' Product Mix
To that end, GH Lab is taking a radical less-is-more approach to the merchandise mix. Unlike the traditional retail tact of offering multiple options within a product category, like several brands of lipstick, the store, which bows October 3, will sell a single item per category that’s been tested and recommended by the GH Institute.
The mix includes beauty, fashion, jewelry and accessories, parenting and baby products, home décor and cleaning goods, kitchenware, food and wine, travel and outdoor items, video games and tech fare.
The GH Institute is showing off a replica of the GH Lab pop-up shop that will open in October at the Mall of America, at parent company Hearst's New York City headquarters.
And in a nod to transparency, “Lab Lowdown” primers, which explain the institute’s testing results, accompany every item in-store.
The merchandise will be brought to life via demos and consumers can also talk one-on-one with GH Lab experts, with the idea of fostering a sense of discovery, just as the institute leverages its health-and-safety authority.
Indeed, the store taps into the content-and-commerce model that’s emerged as retailers and brands experiment with ways to resonant with today’s savvy consumers, who now have the world’s mall at their smartphone-connected fingertips, by elevating the shopping experience and delivering something e-commerce can’t.
Some brands are heeding the call with shopper-education driven content, be it grooming advice via Five O’clock, the online publication from razor-market disruptor Harry’s, to personalized beauty tutorials from Coty, to drive sales, as PSFK’s Content & Commerce report explores.
Tapping Into The Amazon Effect
By joining forces with Amazon, GH Lab gains access to the online giant’s huge shopper base, while both companies can tap into consumer insights from shopper transaction data.
From a co-branding point of view, “It’s an amazing concept when one considers the equity in Good Housekeeping. You just say the name and consumers fill it in with a ‘seal of approval,’ Robert Passikoff, founder and president of brand consultancy and market research firm BrandKeys, told PSFK. “At a time when brand differentiation is harder and harder to come by, you have a built-in raison d’être to buy something from them than just another brand. And partnering with Amazon, which ranked #1 again this year in Brand Keys’ Loyalty leaders List, Passikoff noted, “is just great brand synergy.”
The pop-up store will operate during the height of the holiday shopping season from October through December with new products introduced over the three-month period.
“We’re excited about the future expansion possibilities of the concept, and will have more news to share in the coming months,” Francisco said.
Lead image: Mall of America stock photo from IVY PHOTOS/Shutterstock