By Andrew Ritchie
Ever wonder why Martha Stewart’s collective ventures are so often referred to as an "Empire?" Read on and you’ll see that the word "Empire" may, in fact, be descriptively inadequate!
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia – an Overview
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia delivers how-to content and products through four major mediums: Publishing, Television, Internet/Direct Commerce and Merchandising. There are eight core content components in the Martha Stewart Living "how-to" mandate, with merchandising sold through the company to compliment these informative categories: Home, Cooking and Entertaining, Gardening, Crafts, Holiday, Keeping, Weddings, and Baby & Kids.
In 1997, Martha Stewart repurchased her company, Martha Stewart Enterprises, from Time Warner Inc. and rechristened it Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. In 1999, Martha took the company public, one of the most successful IPOs in recent history, making Martha a billionaire and giving her company enormous prestige.
Below is an analytical breakdown of the four major divisions of the company as it exists today.
MAGAZINES: U.S. & CANADA
Martha Stewart launched her first magazine, Martha Stewart Living, in 1990 through Time Warner Inc. to huge success. Issued 10 times a year at first, the magazine featured a photograph of Martha on each cover and the "how-to" content centered around all aspects of living, as the title suggests: cooking, entertaining, gardening, home keeping, restoring, collecting, crafts and celebrating holidays. It also featured several original recipes in each issue. Much of the content was originally filtered through Martha’s own lifestyle and catered, primarily, to upper-middle-class women.
The magazine has always boasted beautiful photography, unparalleled in the magazine industry, and a clean, streamlined layout. The content is well researched and always relevant to the magazine’s mandate of inspirational living on the North American continent. Its intriguingly large dimensions have inspired countless spin-offs, such as the derivative Real Simple. Other celebrity magazines have borrowed heavily from the successful design of Martha Stewart Living, such as "O" magazine, Oprah Winfrey’s monthly magazine, and "Rosie," Rosie O’Donnell’s now-defunct magazine. Martha Stewart Living also helped to boost the sales of similar home and garden magazines, essentially raising the bar on the standard of presentation these publications sought to employ.
The remarkable efforts did not go unnoticed. In 1996 Martha Stewart was named Publishing Executive of the Year by Adweek and, that same year, also received the Matrix Award in the magazine category. The American Marketing Association honored Martha with the Edison Achievement Award in 1998 and later that year she was given the C.E.O. Summit Award by the HFN. She was inducted into the National Sales and Marketing Hall of Fame and was named Top Lifestyle/Designer by the HFN in 1999 for her "Everyday" product line. Martha also became a member of the board of directors at the Magazine Publishers Association.
By 1997, Martha had bought back her magazine from Time Warner Inc. and subtle changes ensued. No longer was Martha the subject of each cover, although she still maintained several columns in each issue including "Martha’s Calendar", "Ask Martha", "A Letter from Martha" and "Remembering."
Martha also began to release special issues of Living, including a particularly popular one about Weddings. It wasn’t long before a separate magazine was created all together, to facilitate the demand: Martha Stewart Weddings was released seasonally with tips on wedding etiquette, gift ideas, floral bouquets, planning suggestions and cake presentations.
Two other special issues emerged with the new millennium: Martha Stewart Kids and Martha Stewart Baby. Both magazines are seasonal releases and are celebrations of all things childlike: fun ideas for creative birthday parties, simple crafts for children, celebrating baby showers and holidays, activity suggestions for parents and kids and healthy menu ideas.
The most recent addition to the Martha Stewart publishing phenomenon is a digest-size magazine called Everyday Food. The small magazine contains recipes with ingredients that can be found in your local grocery store, as opposed to the more exotic recipes found in Martha Stewart Living, and can usually be cooked in under an hour. Beginning in September of 2003, Everyday Food will publish monthly.
• Martha Stewart Living – monthly
Circulation: 2 million
• Martha Stewart Weddings – seasonal
• Martha Stewart Kids – seasonal
• Martha Stewart Baby – seasonal
• Everyday Food – monthly (beginning September, 2003)
In 1982 Martha released her first book, "Entertaining" through Crown Publishing, where her husband Andy worked at the time. The book was an instant success and a critical hit and is now considered a classic. Since 1982 an entire legion of books followed. Below is a complete list of Martha’s books to date:
• Martha’s Books for Entertaining
Entertaining * Hors D’oeuvres * Hors D’oeuvres Handbook * Menus for Entertaining * Great Parties
• Martha’s Cookbooks
* The Martha Stewart Cookbook * Martha Stewart’s Quick Cook * Healthy Quick Cook * Quick Cook Menus * Pies and Tarts * What to have for Dinner * Desserts * Favorite Comfort Food * The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook * Martha Stewart Living 2002 Annual Recipes * The Martha Stewart Living Christmas Cookbook
• Martha’s Books for Special Occasions
Holidays * Special Occasions * Halloween * Christmas with Martha Stewart Living * Martha Stewart’s Christmas * Handmade Christmas * Giving for the Holidays * The Wedding Planner * Weddings
• Martha’s Books for the Home
Gardening * Gardening 101 * How to Decorate * Decorating With Color * Decorating Details * Great American Wreaths * Good Things * Martha Stewart’s New Old House * Good Things for Organizing * Good Things from Tag Sales and Flea Markets
MARTHA STEWART LIVING TELEVISION - U.S. & CANADA
Martha Stewart launched her television show, Martha Stewart Living, in 1993 with Group W Productions, formerly a division of Westinghouse. Using the visual style of her flagship magazine of the same name, Martha extended the content themes into the television medium, thereby expanding her audience and broadening her fan base substantially.
Viewers watch Martha and her special guests prepare exciting meals, restore furniture, give garden tips and make crafts. There is also a "field trip" segment where Martha explores the wonders of a certain museum or gallery, a local farm or an international fair. Guests have included celebrities like Rosie O’Donnell, Andy Rooney, Oprah Winfrey and Hillary Clinton, as well as some of the world’s greatest chefs, gardeners, architects, collectors and artisans.
What began as a half-hour, weekly television show, became a daily program by 1995 and soon expanded into a one-hour time slot. By the late ‘90s, Martha Stewart Living was the most popular daytime program for women and was viewed in 97% of American households on 182 channels, in 185 markets.
All programs are taped at Martha’s Connecticut studios or on location at various sites around the country. Some past location shoots have included restaurants in Los Angeles and San Francisco, farms in Idaho and estates in Maine, to name but a few. International locations have included Puerto Rico, Japan and several spots in Canada, such as Toronto and the coast of Newfoundland.
Since its debut, Martha Stewart Living television has garnered 29 Daytime Emmy Award nominations, winning six: twice for Outstanding Directing in a Service Show, three times for Outstanding Service Show and once for Outstanding Host of a Service Show.
• Martha Stewart Living is a syndicated daily, hour-long program, broadcast to176 stations in America, and on HGTV in Canada.
• From Martha’s Kitchen is a daily half-hour program, broadcast on the Food Network.
• From Martha’s Home is a half-hour program, aired twice a week on HGTV.
• From Martha’s Garden is a half-hour program, aired three times a week on HGTV
• Radio: "Ask Martha"
This advice program, which debuted in November, 1995, is aired daily on 319 stations across America, and one station in Canada. The pre-recorded program is only a few minutes long, on topics ranging from how to iron delicates to the life cycles of starfish.
• Newspaper: "Ask Martha"
Martha’s syndicated "Ask Martha" column got its start in the late 80s and continues to this day. Carried in hundreds of newspapers across America, the advice column is an accompaniment to her radio show of the same name, with tips on all things domestic.
3. INTERNET/DIRECT COMMERCE:
With the late ‘90s came the "dot.com boom" and Martha Stewart was quick to recognize the potential of this new medium called the Internet. Her website, MarthaStewart.com, was launched in 1998 to huge success.
The site functions both as a learning tool and a shopping centre, divided into two content categories: learn and shop. Today there are over one million registered members with an online bulletin board where members can exchange recipes, discuss home-renovation projects, give decorating tips or ask fellow members for advice on any number of domestic subjects.
Below is a breakdown of the site’s basic links.
• The "Shop" category (shipping and delivery limited to the United States):
• Martha by Mail: the Catalogue for Living
Prior to the launch of the website, Martha conceived of a mail-order catalogue, which readers of her magazine could send for. The catalogue contained "Martha Stewart" brand-name items, like towels, soap, linens, home accessories, craft supplies and gardening supplies. Today, online users can order any number of products through MarthaStewart.com or through her mail-order catalogue. The "Martha Stewart" product line has expanded to include some items of clothing, patio furniture and smaller pieces of furniture for inside the home, such as kitchen tables, end tables and stools.
Martha’s flowers and cards
Users of MarthaStewart.com have the option of ordering flowers or creating custom greeting cards through her website. An assortment of bouquets to mark any special occasion, or none at all, are available for shipping anywhere in the United States. (The orders can be placed from anywhere in the world but delivery is limited to the U.S.) The flowers are grown at nurseries around the country, including many in California, Florida and Tennessee. They arrive in specially-sealed boxes and come with plant food and an inscribed greeting card, which one writes when ordering the flowers. Users can also customize their own greeting cards or invitations for any occasion, using an assortment of exclusive photographic images that are available for selection at the site
• Martha Stewart wedding and gift registry
Couples about to be wed can register at MarthaStewart.com, as can anyone who would like to create and maintain a registry of gifts. Dishware, cookware and an entire line of appropriate gifts for weddings, birthdays and anniversaries is available here.
• Martha Stewart Everyday
Martha’s highly-successful "Everyday" bath and bedding line (available in retail exclusively at Kmart and Sears Canada) can be viewed and purchased through MarthaStewart.com. An array of sheets & bedding, towels, dishware, flatware and kitchen/bath accessories is available.
• Martha Stewart Signature
Early in the millennium, Martha launched a new line of color-coordinated paints based largely on the colors seen at three of her homes: Skylands, Lily Pond and Turkey Hill. The Martha Stewart Signature line was expanded to include fabrics, flooring and, most recently, furniture, all in coordinated schemes to facilitate easy decorating. The furniture is high-quality and is manufactured by one of the most prestigious furniture-makers in America, Bernhardt. Based on some of Martha’s own pieces, the furniture lines include bedroom, dining and living room sets. This line is not available for purchase through the website but there is an online directory of stores that carry this brand.
• Martha’s Newsletter
Registered members of MarthaStewart.com can receive her online newsletter, with recipes, notifications of changes to the website and tag sales for members.
Subscriptions to Martha Stewart Living magazine can be controlled through MarthaStewart.com. Members can update their subscriptions, retrieve back-issues or buy special issues, such as her Weddings, Kids, Everyday Food and Baby magazines. Martha’s books are also available for purchase through MarthaStewart.com.
• The "Learn" category:
• Visitors can search over 2000 free recipes and browse hundreds of free articles about home keeping, restoration, cooking, entertaining, weddings, celebrating holidays and gardening.
• Visitors can watch previously-recorded tapings of Martha Stewart Living Television at a new section of the site, using Media Player.
• Registered members can use the online Bulletin Board and interact with thousands of registered users, share tips on cooking, exchange recipes, how-to info about entertaining, home keeping, restoration, gardening, etc.
• Information about Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia is available through the website with links to Investor Relations, Career Opportunities, radio transcripts and information about Martha and all her ventures.
Beginning in the mid-1980s with her exclusive "Everyday" line at Kmart, Martha Stewart recognized, early on, the importance of tangible products. Today, Martha has expanded her product lines considerably with a mail-order catalogue, and a new line of paints, fabrics, flooring and furniture. Most of the product lines have been discussed above and are available through her website, MarthaStewart.com. Here is a secondary overview of the Martha Stewart product lines:
• Martha Stewart Everyday
This inexpensive line of bedding, bath linens and kitchenware is available exclusively at Kmart and Sears Canada, or through MarthaStewart.com.
• Martha Stewart Signature – paints, fabrics, flooring, and furniture with Bernhardt
This prestigious line of color-coordinated paints, upholstery, flooring and furniture, based on some of Martha’s own favorite color schemes and furniture, is available at a number of retailers across North America. Visit Sherwin Williams, Home Hardware in Canada, for Martha Stewart paints. Her Signature furniture, fabrics and flooring are not yet available in Canada but Americans can visit any store that carries Bernhardt furniture for information about the line. Her flooring is manufactured through Shaw Industries and is available at places like The Carpet Shop.
• Martha Stewart – the Catalogue for Living
Any number of interesting products are available through the Catalogue for Living, a mail-order catalogue that can also be used via MarthaStewart.com. Scrapbooks, glue-guns, vacuums, soap, gardening tools, craft supplies, indoor/outdoor furniture, beach towels and fashion accessories are just a few of the many items available through this catalogue.
MARTHA STEWART IN JAPAN
According to MSO President, Sharon Patrick, making Martha Stewart a "global home goods brand" is one of the company’s primary aims. With ongoing discussions about expanding business overseas, in countries like Australia, South Korea and Germany, it’s possible that the name Martha Stewart may eventually become as prevalent as Ralph Lauren or Levi Strauss on the international scene.
The company launched its first overseas venture in Japan in 2001, a market that has been eager to absorb Western cultural phenomena since the early 80s. In December of 2001, MSO issued its first ever foreign-language publication – a bimonthly magazine, written in Japanese, called Martha Stewart Martha. Borrowing heavily from the layout and design of the earliest issues of Martha Stewart Living magazine, Martha Stewart Martha aims to blend American culture with Japanese traditions, in all areas of the domestic arts.
Her programs are aired on the LaLa channel in Japanese and her product lines are available in the 226 Seiyu retail stores across the country, a store similar to Walmart.
Japan is also home to the very first Martha Stewart stand-alone store, located in the chic and fashionable Yurakucho district of Tokyo.
So far the venture has been extremely successful, meaning promising possibilities for the Martha Stewart brand name in other foreign markets.